TechUK urges government to level digital divide

CEO Julian David suggests closing the Local Digital Capital gap could add £145 billion to the UK economy and create 2.7 million

The industry body that represents the UK's tech sector has called on the government to commit to levelling the digital playing field across Britain. 

TechUK launched a report on Monday called 'Building the Future We Need' that sets out ways the country could tackle the 'Local Digital Capital gap' and foster more innovative tech businesses and hubs outside of London. 

The pandemic has highlighted the stark regional differences across the country with disproportionate investment and support for small businesses. TechUK has called for a funding strategy to help boost the county's digital sector with an explicit aim to support growth outside London and the South East.

Its report identifies the role digital technology must play in safeguarding the UK's economic recovery and future prosperity and also highlights the urgent need for the country to increase its digital capabilities to tackle the immediate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisation is calling for further collaboration and coordination between areas and also urges the government to drive digital adoption. Among its recommendations are digital adoption grants for SMBs, a CTO credit and also a chief digital officer forum to support national collaboration. 

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Julian David, the CEO of TechUK, said that closing the Local Digital Capital gap would transform the UK, boost its economic output by as much as £145 billion and create 2.7 million new jobs in the process. 

"The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on people, businesses and public services," David said. "But it has also demonstrated the way in which technology has been put to work helping people adapt and reinvent. At the same time, the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 has only reiterated the need to address the structural inequalities that shape prosperity across the UK's regions and nations.

"This report sets out how digital technology can contribute to a more levelled-up economy - by creating new jobs, broadening the flow of investment, and by deploying the enabling tools for the rest of the economy to thrive and to deliver public services efficiently."

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