The UK Government announced its latest spending plans yesterday, with the launch of the 2021 Budget and 2021 Spending Review. This included numerous policy updates, with some notable announcements in key areas such as: Skills, Education, and Research & Development, with strong support also shown for the UK Life Sciences Sector.
The Government announced that total spending on skills will increase by £3.8 billion by 2024-25, a real terms increase of 26% compared to 2019-20. This additional funding will help to:
There is also increased support for UK-wide ‘Help to Grow’ schemes, which aim to provide world-class management skills training and support for digital adoption to over 100,000 SMEs.
Apprenticeships funding will increase to £2.7 billion by 2024-25. A significant part of this is the government’s continuing commitment to meet 95% of the apprenticeship training cost for employers who do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy. The 2021 Budget’s technical document also notes the government’s intention to deliver some apprenticeship system improvements for all employers, including:
The Government also promise to consider changes to the “provider payment profiles aimed at giving employers more choice over how the apprenticeship training is delivered, and explore the streamlining of existing additional employer support payments so that they go directly to employers”.
It was also confirmed that the £3,000 cash incentives for each apprentice an employer hires will end on 31 January 2022.
Research & Development
The Government is also increasing public R&D to £20 billion by 2024-25. This is an increase of around a quarter in real terms over the Spending Review period (Government had previously announced its ambition to spend £22 billion on R&D by 2026-27). This will help the government deliver on its Innovation Strategy by investing in pioneering scientific and technological breakthroughs, boosting productivity and creating high skilled, high paid jobs. Specifically, the support will:
There are also plans to reform R&D tax reliefs to support modern research methods, with the government announcing it will expand qualifying expenditure to include data and cloud computing costs.
Another announcement saw increased support for the Made Smarter adoption programme to boost the productivity of manufacturing SMEs through the use of advanced digital technologies.
The Spending Review settlement details £5 billion for health-related R&D. The support includes:
Additionally, a £354 million investment for life sciences manufacturing was announced, including medicines, diagnostics and vaccines, to increase health resilience and create thousands of jobs.
In spring 2022, the government will launch the ‘Scale up’, ‘High Potential Individual’, and ‘Global Business Mobility’ visas to attract highly skilled people and support inward investment. The government is also launching a ‘Global Talent Network’ to proactively find and bring talented people to the UK in key science and technology sectors.
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