Tag: george osborne

Osborne backs the internet of things

gosborneGeorge Osborne, the UK chancellor of the exchequer, has promised to throw £40 million into research into the internet of things (IoT). He made the announcement during yesterday’s 2015 budget speech in the House of Commons.

And, in addition, Osborne said that it will spend a further £100 million in R&D on smart cities and future infrastructure in the UK.

Osborne said the UK government was still committed to improving net connections and wants to spend £600 million for better networks and ultrafast broadband across the UK.

The government is also spending money on looking at digital currency and improving wi-fi connections in public places.

Osborne said the IoT would connect everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.

The £40 million will be used to create business incubators for startups that will work on the government’s smart cities initiative.

The tech industry is investing hundreds of millions in IoT applications, but so far there is a distinct lack of standardisation and there are worries about security when billions of devices are all potentially connected to each other.

Driverless cars hit UK roads soon

googlecarYesterday’s Autumn Statement by chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne included information about driverless car tests in the UK.

According to Innovate UK – an arm of the government, £10 million will be plunged into formal trials that will start in January 2015.

The trials will last between 18 and 36 months and will take place in Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry, and Bristol.

Innovate UK said its aim is to make the UK the global hub for research and development of driverless vehicles and other technologies.

Nick Jones, a technologist at Innovate UK, said: “Cars that drive themselves would represent the most significant transformation in road travel since the introduction of the internal combustion engine. It’s vital that trials are carried out safely, that the public have confidence in the technology and we learn everything we can… so that legal, regulation and protection issues don’t get in the way in the future.”

£10 million doesn’t seem quite enough to make the UK the hub for driverless car technology, given that Google and a number of large car manufacturers are plunging heavy investment into the concept.

UK GDP inches up

gosborneThe Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that UK gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.8 percent in the first calendar quarter of this year.

That compares to a rise of 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and year on year equates to a rise of 3.1 percent.

The ONS counts four main segments and there were rises in services (0.9%), production (0.8%) and construction (0.3%). However there was a fall of 0.7 percent in the agricultural sector.

The UK GDP is now 0.6 percent lower than its 2008 peak – that’s before all hell broke loose with the credit crunch.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said there are now foundations for a broad based recovery.  He attributes the recovery to the UK coalition’s economic strategy.

UK government hunts for best SME bank

ukflagThe government said that the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will hold a survey to find out which bank is best at servicing small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Of course the UK taxpayers already largely own the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), after having had to bail it out in 2008. It formerly speicialised in the SME sector but is still in a woeful way.

The independent survey will talk to high street banks, challenger banks and alternative money suppliers in a bid to get the full picture.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he wanted British banks to put Britain’s small businesses at the top of their priority list.

Earlier today, the National Audit Office said that there are financial problems facing British SMEs, which are likely to needan additional £22 billion by 2017.

It said in a statement there is a lack of clarity what different schemes are expected to deliver. “Although the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and HM Treasury both have teams dealing with ‘enterprise policy’, there is no formal research programme joining the Department with other departments, such as HMRC, with an interest in SMEs.”

Resellers cautiously welcome the budget

gosborneResellers have cautiously welcomed some parts of the Budget, saying elements could help smaller businesses and the IT industry.

However, they have warned that by giving benefits and breaks to SMEs and start ups larger companies may find room for complaint.

The comments come as Chancellor George Osborne set out plans to drive the economy by offering SMEs reductions in National Insurance.

The latter was described as a “tax off jobs,” offering every company in the UK the option to take the first £2,000 pounds off their National Insurance bill.

Additionally, he said the Coalition will provide funding for any external advice companies needed.

According to Osborne, roughly 450,000 small businesses  could end up paying no jobs tax at all under the new outlines. He said that for those starting their own businesses and looking to employ staff, “a huge barrier would be removed” when the legislation passes next April.

Responding to the budget, a source at a large reseller told ChannelEye the £2,000 credit against employer’s NI contributions is “a great initiative” and “could also help start-ups too”.

“Not so good for bigger firms who may in the long run face competition from the up and coming businesses with smaller overheads offering cheaper IT services,” the source said.

Another added: “I suppose it’s good that the budget is proposing a cut in corporation tax and boosts for SMEs, however, whether that will pay off remains to be seen.”

Both resellers queried plans to hold off infrastructure plans until 2015, which the Chancellor hinted at when he claimed that, although the government planned to support the economy with the infrastructure it needs, he would only look at throwing £3 billion a year at broadband and mobile telephony investments from 2015 to 2016.

“The reduction in the growth outlook means there will be no new money for infrastructure until 2015/16,” this large reseller told us. “This means we are left in limbo as an economy. This will have a knock on effect on the IT sector, which thrives through new initiatives and businesses.”

The other added: “The Budget is more focused on helping smaller businesses, so surely delaying this could have a knock on effect on the economy”.

Unemployment rose during November 2012 to January

Jobcentre-plus-During the months of November 2012 to January 2013, unemployment rose, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has said.

In its latest repor,t the organisation said the figures shot up by 7,000 to 2.52 million, compared to the previous three months.

The North East of England fared the worst with a top unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, while the East and South East of England saw the lowest figures with 6.6 percent.

Last month the organisation found that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 1,500 to 1.54 million.

The number of unemployed women increased by 5000, while youths also suffered. Figures stood at 993000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest quarter, up by 48000 from the three months to October.

The ONS also revealed that average earnings for those in employment increased by 1.2 percent in the year to January.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the latest figures showed that the government had “failed every single one of these [unemployed] people and it has failed our country.”

He said instead of the bedroom tax or cutting child benefit, the government could dramatically reduce the welfare bill by getting people back to work.

“The Government should use today’s Budget to take bold action to fuel growth. Taxing banking bonuses could provide vital funds to stop the jobs carnage in the public sector and provide the jobs and growth our economy so desperately needs,” he added.

Budget will have knock on effect on disties

ossyThe dreaded UK Budget could have a negative impact on margins in the industry, distributors have said.

With the UK teetering on the brink of a triple-dip recession and the country’s once-cherished AAA credit rating lost, the Budget, set to be announced on Wednesday is expected to bring bad news to businesses.

Chancellor George Osborne has already said the Budget will contain measures to “help those who aspire to work hard and get on” but would also set out the scale of further curbs on public spending from 2015.

Distributors have also suggested Osborne will once again announce rises in fuel as well as on metals, both factors that could cause ripples in the channel.

One told ChannelEye: “The budget is always a time everyone dreads. If we’re talking from a business perspective then there’s a lot that we can look forward to. Firstly is probably a rise in fuel costs, which of course will have a detrimental impact on our business, meaning we’ll have to raise costs for our customers.

“Components, especially those with certain metals will also rise, meaning suppliers will either have to raise their costs or, in an unlikely case, keep costs the same and risk smaller margins. Either way it’s not good,” he added.

Another distie also shared the same views, embellishing on the components that could be affected, telling ChannelEye: “Every year the budget has some impact on us and our clients. Some metals, be it iron or copper could be taxed at a higher price meaning suppliers will have to raise their costs having both a knock on effect on the channel and the consumer, who I imagine will also be facing more financial issues due to other parts of the budget.

“However, this may also drive more competition with suppliers trying to keep costs low. This means it’ll drive down lower prices which will affect our margins.”

Others were however, more concerned about fuel costs, claiming that this would be the
“biggest problem for [the industry],” as they just kept “rising and rising”.

“Possibly component prices but I don’t think this will have as much impact as petrol costs,” he told ChannelEye.

“Either way it’ll mean we, and clients will be putting prices up to ensure we keep to our profit margins.”

However, others were less concerned taking a more “Ce la vie” approach.
“It’s not all bad,” one said.

“Yes, there will be price hikes in fuel and components. But, this is all relative to the way inflation works. Everything is going up, it’s the way of the climate. I think people are almost expecting to having to pay more, whether that has a knock on effect on what they buy remains to be seen.”

BRC calls on Osborne to boost the high street

ossyThe British Retail Consortium (BRC) has laid down the gauntlet to George Osborne, urging him to use the budget to save the flagging high street.

The organisation has said that changes such as freezing business rates and cutting bureaucracy could go some way to helping the high street recover, after a tough couple of years.

Yesterday, a separate report by the Local Data Company (LDC) found that the percentage of empty shops in the country’s 650 most popular high streets nationally hit 14.2 percent – roughly 35,500 vacant properties – in December.

Analysts also warned that this number could rise as a result of big brands such as HMV and Jessops going into administration.

Now the BRC has waded into the ongoing crisis demanding that something is done. It said in a report, written in partnership with Oxford Economics, that the retail industry made an “essential contribution” to investment, jobs and growth.

However, operating costs within this industry have risen by a fifth since 2006 and it is centrally-driven costs that have risen most rapidly.

Costs of doing business are claimed to have increased by 21 percent to £20 billion since 2006, while annual operating costs have shot up by from £96 billion to £116 billion, the BRC said.

However, it pointed out that over the same period retailers sales values increased by just 12 percent meaning that the industry faced job losses and store closures.

In its submission, ahead of next month’s budget, the BRC has now said the Chancellor must intervene to support jobs and growth. It wants to see business rates frozen in April 2013 as well as utility bills cut, which the company said will help businesses stay on premesis.

A ‘One in, Two Out’ regulation, which is said to ensure any regulations being scrapped in one sector are replaced with new rules is also being pushed.

The organisation also wants to see a central coordination on implementation of the Portas Review recommendations.

Triple dip recession threat leaves channel unbothered

gosborneAccording to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the British economy shrank 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, reflecting wider economic woes in the Eurozone and further afield.

The figures were lower than expected for the last three months of 2012 and have sparked fears that, if the economy does not pick up, the UK will enter an unprecedented ‘triple dip recession’ – although arguably, Britain never left the recession at all. Chancellor George Osborne has warned that tough times still lie ahead for the country, but shirked advice from the International Monetary Fund that he and the Coalition should ease up on the policy of austerity.

On the GDP figures, Osborne said: “We have a reminder today that Britain faces a very difficult economic situation”.

The figures serve as a “reminder that last year was particularly difficult” and that the country faces problems at home “because of the debts built up over many years and problems abroad with the Eurozone, where we export most of our products, in recession”. The opposition accused Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron of being “asleep at the wheel”, although the macroeconomic environment is unrelentingly difficult and both Labour and Conservatives differ on many minutae of policy – with the wider climate beyond their control.

GDP, meanwhile, was flat compared to the same time last year. Production output decreased by 1.8 percent for the quarter, negating a 0.7 percent increase between the second and third quarters. Service industry output was flat from Q3 into Q4, although that followed a 1.2 percent boost between Q2 and Q3 2012.

Britain enjoyed steady GDP growth from 2000 right up until the world markets crashed in 2008, and according to the ONS, the decline of economic conditions in 2008 and up until now has had a significant effect on construction and production – though the service sector wasn’t hit as hard, and is now slowly returning to 2008 levels.

In October last year, channel analyst house Canalys’ CEO, Steve Brazier, said that, despite the difficult economic climate, there is still opportunity in the channel. Although growth was not exactly meteoric, Brazier said that by carefully steering the ship, channel players could weather the storm, although the market will be tough.


Senior analyst at Canalys, Rachel Brindley, offered some thoughts to ChannelEye on just what channel players can do to push through the crisis. She tells us the situation isn’t exactly all doom and gloom.

“Some partners will struggle if this economy goes into a triple dip recession,” Brindley said, “but there is a chance that it could happen. That being said, a lot are well placed – those who focus on customer service, keeping existing customers very close, growing their services business an diversifying their portfolio into things like managed services and data centres, will rise to the difficult times we’ve been going through”.

“Generally,” Brindley said, “those that focus on their customers, and diversify their business away from traditional hardware and box shifting will come through OK, it will come down to careful planning and taking opportunities in spaces like the data centre and looking at what’s going on in the networking space”.