Spring Budget 2023 Misses Opportunity To Address Investment Gap And Direct Funds To Digital Champions
The 2023 Spring Budget, announced by the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt MP, covers off a plethora of Government focus areas including updates on the cost of living, public services and growing the economy. Plans for the telecoms industry, however, are notably absent – demonstrating that there is still a long way to go before adequate measures are in place to address the growing connectivity investment gap.
And while the Chancellor outlined a new focus on AI and intelligent connectivity, it was disappointing that there was barely a reference to mobile and 4G connectivity, and a missed opportunity to announce much needed funding for local authority Digital Champions.
But in doing so, the growing challenges and pressures that the industry faces must be understood and, in particular, take account of the recent findings of the Digital Connectivity Forum (DCF), which identified a significant £10 - £25 billion investment gap based on the forecast upgrade capabilities of the industry and the connectivity ambitions set out by the Government.
We hope to see the Government’s ambitions in this space in the much-anticipated Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which is expected soon. And, we remain focused on fostering a great working relationship with the Government, to deliver world-class connectivity in the UK and meet its ambition for the nation.
Specifically, we hope to work with the Government to break down barriers and create a positive investment environment which supports the deployment of mobile infrastructure to help to sustain people’s ultra-connected lifestyles, along with the recruitment of Digital Champions within local authorities.