Public Services > Central Government

Budget confirms tech innovation funding and gives additional cash for NHS STPs

David Bicknell Published 22 November 2017

Technology and innovation play key role in government’s Budget proposals with spending confirmed on new technologies such as AI, immersive technology and driverless cars; NHS STPs to benefit by £2.6bn


In a Budget which showcased spending on technologies and innovation, Chancellor Phillip Hammond confirmed plans to ensure public services can benefit from emerging technologies, as well providing additional funds for NHS Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs).

As signalled recently, the Budget papers detailed the creation of GovTech Catalyst, a small central unit to be based in the Government Digital Service (GDS) intended to businesses and innovators a clear access point to government.

The unit has been set up to help them navigate government and collaborate to solve public sector challenges. Public bodies will be able to access this fund to support procurement of innovative products through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), run by Innovate UK.

Pre-Budget, several technology-related announcements were signalled which were duly confirmed in the Chancellor’s Speech and subsequent Budget papers.

The government said it would create a new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to drive “safe, ethical and ground-breaking innovation” in AI and data-driven technologies. The body will work with government, regulators and industry to lay the foundations for AI adoption. The government also said it will invest over £75m to take forward key recommendations of the independent review on AI, including exploratory work to facilitate data access through ‘data trusts’.

The Budget also announced the creation of a new Geospatial Commission to provide strategic oversight to various public bodies who hold geospatial data. The government said it would work with the Ordnance Survey (OS) and the new Commission, by May 2018, to establish how to open up freely the OS MasterMap data to UK-based small businesses.

The news was welcome by ODI chairman and co-founder of the ODI, Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, who said, "I’m delighted that the UK government is carrying through on the commitment in the Conservative manifesto to open up UK geospatial data. The data community has been pressing for this for many years. In particular, opening up the OS Master Map will stimulate growth and investment in the UK economy, generate jobs and improve services.

“The OS Master Map provides the most detailed landscape data in the UK. It will make it easier to find land for house-building. It will also enable the development of services that improve vital infrastructure.

“The further announcement today of the Geospatial Commission demonstrates a concrete commitment to this agenda. The ODI is ready to work with the Commission to ensure that all the benefits attached to opening up this data are fully realised.”

ODI chief executive Dr Jeni Tennison said, “This is great progress. Open access to OS Master Map isn’t just useful on its own: it will remove current legal barriers that limit the availability of other data – from the foreign ownership of land to the locations of parking spaces – which is essential to understand and tackle housing and transport challenges. It is fantastic to see government committing to give great institutions like Ordnance Survey the support they need to provide data infrastructure fit for the 21st century."

The Chancellor also promised additional funding for the NHS. He announced a further £3.5bn of new capital funding for the NHS in England which he said was on top of the £425m already provided at Spring Budget in March. The Budget papers suggested that £2.6bn will be made available for local Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) to deliver transformation schemes that improve their ability to meet demand for local services.

The government also said it would also be investing a further £155m in additional resources and new technology for HMRC. The investment is forecast to help bring in £2.3bn of additional tax revenues.



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