IT industry wants infrastructure, tax breaks and SME support from Budget

Chancellor George Osborne will announce the Budget at midday tomorrow, and IT businesses are calling for useful tax breaks and good national infrastructure, with support for small enterprises.

The government needed to ensure the UK has the right technical infrastructure in place to support business growth, according to Morag Lucey, senior VP at converged IT and billing firm Convergys Smart Revenue Solutions.

"We will be specifically hoping that the government finally puts its money where its mouth is and invests more in the rollout of superfast broadband in the UK," she said.

There was "a sizeable gap between the money committed by the public sector and the private sector" for broadband, she said. "There is a questionable commercial case for communications service providers to bridge that gap alone, but absolutely no question as to the societal and economic benefits the UK will reap from universally-available superfast broadband."

Open source software providers also expressed their frustration at the perceived barriers to non-proprietary system adoption, and said the government needed to tackle the problem.

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Jim Shaw, general manager for Europe at Acquia, said that in spite of the government recently launching an open source toolkit on the Cabinet Office website in order to provide a level playing field, cultural barriers were holding departments back from making the change.

"An entrenched culture of scepticism against open source adoption is still rife in the public sector and these barriers need to be broken down for the huge range of benefits the technology offers to be realised," he said. In spite of open source systems powering the Cabinet Office website and some DirectGov services, as well as Transport for London's Oystercard using an open source infrastructure, he said, the UK trailed the US and France for adoption.

"With potentially huge savings to be made through efficient public sector IT initiatives, the UK cannot afford to maintain a lukewarm approach to open source adoption."

Small businesses said the Chancellor needed to offer them tax breaks, as well as assisting with effective ways to prevent late payment by their suppliers.