Budget 2017: Phillip Hammond announces investment into self-driving cars, 5G and AI

Philip Hammond has announced the government's investment plans in his Autumn Budget 2017 statement

22 Nov 2017

Even though most of the more significant announcements were revealed before Wednesday's Budget 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond has now officially outlined his plans for the UK economy in the Autum Budget 2017 statement.

While Brexit has already inflated tech prices and seen a 50% decrease in foreign applicants taking up UK-based tech jobs, Hammond has sent a clear message to Silicon Valley with plans to make sizeable investments in the tech sector. We already received a sneak peek at the budget's tech emphasis last week when Theresa May announced that she would be doubling the number of visas available for global talent. Now we have some figures to go along with her announcement. 

Self-driving cars to be on Britain’s roads by 2021

We’ve been pretty far behind the curve when it comes to self-driving cars with the US and Japan steamrolling ahead without us. However, Hammond has announced some post-Brexit regulatory reforms that will change how the autonomous vehicle industry works in the UK, proposing self-driving cars on our roads in as little as three years. These reforms will mean developers can apply to test any self-driving vehicle on UK roads, without a human operator, for the very first time.  The government has forecast that the industry will create 27,000 jobs and be worth £28 billion to the British economy by 2035. We’ve had limited trials in Coventry and Milton Keynes in the past but nothing to the scale at which Hammond is to propose, mostly due to the Road Traffic Act.

An even bigger push for electric cars

Hammond has announced a £400 million fund that will enable companies to create a network of electric car charging stations all over the country.

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As well as the charging station fund, the Chancellor is to announce an investment of £100 million that will boost the purchase of clean cars, emphasising plug-in car points in an attempt to encourage more drivers to switch to EVs. This should at least help the government pursue its goal of zero-emission roads by 2040.

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Clean Air Fund

Alongside its push towards cleaner, electric cars, we already knew the government was pinning its hat on a renewable future through the Clean Growth Strategy and air quality plan. Further to this, the Chancellor has announced a new £220m Clean Air Fund to provide support to local authorities as they draw up local air quality plans.

5G and lightning speed internet

Hammond is to invest in the UK’s future mobile network infrastructure by announcing that £160 million will go into supporting 5G mobile network development across the country.

£35 million will also be released to help deliver lightning speed internet and mobile connections on rail journeys.  The trials are planned to start on the Trans-Pennine route, connecting Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

5G investment will include road-testing, meaning the government can be certain that the network will support the cars of the future.

Artificial Intelligence

£75 million will go into bringing the UK up to speed with AI as the government hopes to support start-ups and increase the number of PhD students to 200 each year.

£36 million will go into digital skills courses that include the use of AI in an effort to retrain workers as traditional jobs become automated.

Further tech job investments

Finally, Hammond will announce £100 million for an additional 8,000 qualified computer science teacher jobs with a dedicated National Centre for Computing being set up, as well as £76 million to boost digital and construction jobs and skills.

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