Osborne Spending Review Gives Boost To Broadband And Sciences

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Chancellor to maintain broadband spending plans and fix science investment, amidst widespread cuts

The government today pledged to spend more on broadband infrastructure and to maintain investment in sciences, urging Britain to keep innovating in the computer science field.

During his Spending Review today, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced £50 billion pounds of capital investment in 2015 for all kinds of infrastructure, “from roads to railways, bridges to broadband, science to schools”. It is planning to increase capital spending by £3 billion a year from 2015.

Broadband boost (or not?)

george osborne budget 2013 3“It will amount to over £300 billion of capital spending guaranteed to the end of this decade,” he said.

However, much of that funding is expected to go on transport, not broadband, and the pledge is actually just matching current commitments for 2014-2015 tax year, as noted by the BBC.

Further details on the government’s plans to boost both mobile and fixed line broadband will be set out in Investing in Britain’s Future, due to be unveiled tomorrow.

Osborne has been urged to address mobile broadband, but O2 CEO Ronan Dunne has for argued for heavier investment in 4G from the industry, which he believes should be spending more time on reaping the benefits it has to offer. “To unlock economic growth, we need to work together to understand the full potential presented by 4G and turn it into services that improve people’s lives,” Dunne said.

Science fixed

The government will also keep investment on science fixed. It will be keeping the budget for science at £4.6 billion, but will increase the capital budget in real terms to £1.1 billion. Osborne said he would maintain that real increase to the end of the decade

“Scientific discovery is first and foremost an expression of the relentless human search to know more about the world but it is also an enormous strength for a modern economy,” Osborne said.

“From synthetic biology to graphene – Britain is very good at it. And we’re going to keep it that way.

“From the next generation of jet engines, to cutting edge supercomputers, we say: keep inventing, keep delivering, this country will back you all the way.”

Osborne also pledged more for intelligence services, which will benefit from a 3.4 per cent increase in their combined resource budget, even though they have been caught up in controversy surrounding leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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