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General Election 2024: The Future of Tech Policy

General Election 2024: The Future of Tech Policy

The general election is just around the corner. But what are the UK’s two largest parties saying about the future of tech policy? We looked through the manifestoes of Labour and the Conservatives to see what they’ve promised.  

The Conservatives on tech

In their manifesto, released on 11 June, the Conservatives pledged to increase public spending on research and development (R&D) to £22 billion and maintain R&D tax reliefs.  

They plan to continue investing over £1.5 billion in large-scale computer clusters, with the hope that it will allow the UK to take advantage of the full potential of AI and research into its “safe and responsible” use.  

The party also promises to double digital and AI expertise in the civil service and accelerate the modernisation of the UK’s armed forced by investing in technology through the Defence Innovation Agency. For the NHS, the Conservatives plan to invest £3.4 billion in new technology, including an NHS App which would act as a single front door for NHS services and the use of AI. Beyond this, the party also promise to replace outdated computers and digitise NHS processes through a Federated Data Platform. 

These plans continue the party’s ambition to maintain the UK’s status as a “science and innovation superpower” and leading market for starting and growing a FinTech firm. To ensure this trajectory continues, the Conservatives have also promised in their manifesto to build on the policies set out in the Edinburgh and Mansion House Reforms which aim to drive growth and competitiveness in UK businesses.  

Labour on tech

Labour promised in their manifesto that they will create the conditions to support “innovation and growth” in the financial services sector through supporting a “pro-innovation” regulatory framework and technology such as Open Banking and Open Finance. 

As part of their plans for innovation in the wider technology sector, Labour have said they want to create a new Regulatory Innovation Office to help regulators update regulation, speed up approval timelines and co-ordinate issues that span existing boundaries. 

The party have also expressed a will to ensure that their industrial strategy supports the development of the AI sector, with a commitment to remove planning barriers to new datacentres. They hope that by supporting technologies such as AI they will be able to transform the speed and accuracy of diagnostic services within the NHS. They also plan to create a National Data Library through the use of AI to bring together existing research programmes to help deliver other data-driven public services. 

Labour also promises to scrap short funding cycles for ‘key’ R&D institutions in favour of ten-year budgets. They hope this will lead to “meaningful” partnerships within the industry.