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The Budget 2015: What you may have missed from George Osborne's speech

5 min read

19 March 2015

Former editor

While the chancellor's speech lasted a little over an hour, the 2015 Budget document itself is a 124 page-long tome detailing the exact policy the Treasury spent weeks putting together. As such, Real Business had a look to find out what you might have failed to pick up on.

Apprenticeship Voucher

It has been impossible to ignore the affection this government has for apprenticeships, set in concrete by its decision to give apprentices a 57p wage boost to £3.30 an hour. Contained within the full Budget document was detail on its new Apprenticeship Voucher, which will put employers in control of the government funding for the training apprentices need.

Set to be developed and tested with employers and providers ahead of a 2017 implementation date, the government stated the system will provide power for businesses to have “an even greater say” in the quality, value for money and relevance of training providing to apprentices. As confirmed at Autumn Statement 2013, the government and employers will make cash contributions towards the cost of training for apprentices.

Smart cities

Heralded as developments which could prove “transformative” as well as providing “signifiant opportunities” for supporting jobs and growth, the Budget contained details on how the UK will look to take advantage of technology to empower local areas. The government will be supporting a competition to fund a “Smart Cities demonstrator” as part of its Internet of Things (IoT) programme. This will trail and showcase new technologies.

The entire demonstrator initiative will get £40m, spread across programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for IoT technologies in healthcare and social care as well as smart cities.

Have a look at our other Budget 2015 content:

Fintech development

The government has stated its desire for the UK to be the world’s leading fintech hub, leveraging the dominant position it has long held because of its location as a global hub for major banks. To do that, the Budget contained details featuring a move which will see the Financial Conduct Authority’s Project Innovate work with HMT and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) to investigate the feasibility of developing a regulatory “sandbox” for financial services innovators.

The FCA will also, working with the PRA again, look to identify ways to support the adoption of new technologies to facilitate the delivery of regulatory requirements – a development referred to as “regtech”.

Finally Innovate Finance has agreed to deliver its fintech regional strategy through a “series of local partnerships”. Its first partnership has already been established in Leeds, with further ones set to be established in Manchester and Edinburgh by April, and in Newcastle, Bristol and other centres before the end of the year.

When he did make a passing mention to fintech, Osborne said: We take steps to promote competition, back fintech and encourage new business like global reinsurance.

“But as our banking sector becomes more profitable again, I believe they can make a bigger contribution to the repair of our public finances.”

R&D tax credits

Having completed a consultation on improving access to R&D tax credits for smaller companies, the Budget announced the government will introduce voluntary advanced assurances lasting three years for small businesses making a first claim from autumn 2015 – and reduce the time taken to process the claim from 2016 onwards.

Furthermore, the government will produce new standalone guidance aimed specifically at smaller companies, backed by a two-year publicity strategy to raise awareness of R&D tax credits. HMRC will publish a document in the summer “setting out a roadmap for further improvements to the scheme” over the same time period.

Energy Research Accelerator

The government will invest an initial £60m in a proposal by six universities across the Midlands for a new Energy Research Accelerator, a “major project to develop the energy technologies of the future”.

As part of the government’s creation of science catapult centres across the country, it is supporting a new Energy Systems Catapult in Birmingham, which will bring together researchers and industry in order to develop new technologies and products.

Have a look at our big Budget 2015 stories: