General Election 2019: Cover of the Conservative Party Manifesto
The Conservative Party has launched its election manifesto, promising funding of £5 billion to underwrite a pledge to bring full-fibre to every household in the country by 2025.
On top of that, the Party is also planning changes to research and development tax credits to encourage the continued development of cloud computing.
“We intend to bring full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025,” the manifesto promises.
We intend to bring full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025
It continues: “We know how difficult it will be, so we have announced a raft of legislative changes to accelerate progress and £5 billion of new public funding to connect premises which are not commercially viable.”
The pledge is one of a number of promises for an “infrastructure revolution”, largely based on rail and road, but also encompassing “gigabit broadband for every home and business”.
The manifesto promise follows-up a pledge to connect every household to full-fibre broadband by the middle of the next decade, made by Boris Johnson when he became Prime Minister earlier this year. At the time, BT questioned whether the 2025 target for full fibre is achievable.
That compares to more radical policies from the Labour Party, in their manifesto released last week, to nationalise Openreach, BT’s infrastructure arm, and to provide fibre broadband to all households for free by 2030.
The Labour Party, though, has been criticised for suggesting that its planned nationalisations will be “cost neutral” and underestimating the likely cost of providing free fibre broadband to every household.
In a manifesto that is markedly shorter than Labour’s – with both fewer pages and fewer pledges – one of the most intriguing elements was its promise to support the development of cloud computing technologies in the UK via the system of research and development tax credits.
We will increase the tax credit rate to 13 per cent and review the definition of R&D so that important investments in cloud computing and data… are also incentivised
“Some measures have worked, but need to go further – as with R&D tax credits. We will increase the tax credit rate to 13 per cent and review the definition of R&D so that important investments in cloud computing and data, which boost productivity and innovation, are also incentivised,” the manifesto pledged.
On top of that, there was a pledge for funding for more technical education with a promise of £2 billion to “upgrade the entire further education college estate” and to open “twenty Institutes of Technology, which [will] connect high-quality teaching in science, technology, engineering and maths to business and industry”.
In addition, the Conservatives promised to “invest in technical skills and work incentives so British workers take up as many jobs as possible”. This promise was markedly less explicit than Labour’s pledge to establish a National Education Service that would provide life-long “technical, vocational, academic and creative” education.
These people can do more than any others to drive scientific progress and help our NHS and our economy
For freelancers and contractors in the IT industry, there was no reference to IR35, but there were promises for a general review to “better support the self-employed. That includes improving their access to finance and credit (not least mortgages), making the tax system easier to navigate, and examining how better broadband can boost homeworking”.
Just as Silicon Valley and US technology giants were partially fuelled by ambitious incomers, the Conservatives pledged to make the UK an attractive place for the world’s best brains, promised to actively recruit “leaders in their field” with “fast-track entry to the UK”. It continued: “These people can do more than any others to drive scientific progress and help our NHS and our economy.”
In healthcare, the Conservatives promised to “hold an annual health technology summit”.
On law and order, the Party said that it would “embrace new technologies and crack down on online crimes” and “create a new national cyber crime force”.
In addition, the Conservatives said that they would “empower the police to safely use new technologies, like biometrics and artificial intelligence, along with the use of DNA, within a strict legal framework”.