Industry Reacts to Osborne Spending Review

Chancellor George Osborne’s annual Spending Review and Autumn Statement outlines that funding for the BDUK rollout will remain the same, with £1.7 billion of public money being used to take superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017. Similarly, the potential for a new broadband investment fund was flagged in order to support the growth of alternative network developers, by providing greater access to finance.

Following the announcement, Eurolink Connect, a Gloucestershire based telecommunications specialist, issued its reaction to the new Government announcements.

Clare Maddox, director of Eurolink, explains “Today’s announcements have brought very encouraging news for the broadband and internet communications infrastructure. It appears that up to £550 million will be invested over the next Parliament to make the 700Mhz spectrum band available for broadband use – as part of an investment of £10 million in better broadband infrastructure for the South West. This is excellent news for small and medium sized businesses across Gloucestershire and will enable greater competition, faster work pace and ultimately cost savings through increased efficiency.

“In our industry competition between broadband providers is a very healthy thing, driving up standards and driving down costs – ultimately for businesses and consumers. On this basis we are also excited to hear that the government has committed to explore the setting up of a new broadband investment fund, to support the growth of alternative network developers by providing greater access to finance.

Maddox continues “Today’s news has come just at the right time for us too as over the past few months, a number of our customers benefitted from the BDUK funding grant to support the installation of Superfast Broadband, but in early October the government suddenly withdrew the funds on this scheme. The voucher scheme’s success meant that the £40m funding was allocated much earlier than had been expected with over 55,000 SMEs taking advantage – so we really hope this new investment will help to fill the gaps.

“Of most excitement though for Stroud and Gloucestershire is the fact that the South West is at the heart of the government’s cyber security strategy, with one of two Innovation Centres to be based in Cheltenham”.

According to the Government statement, following today’s Spending Review, the Strategic Defence and Security Review willdouble funding for cyber capabilities to £1.9 billion over the Parliament and £10 million in better broadband infrastructure for the South West.

Bob Zemke, Director of Healthcare Solutions at Extreme Networks commented “Despite not reaching the NHS’ original target of £3-5 billion, Chancellor George Osborne’s additional £1bn to achieve a paperless NHS by 2020, will provide a multitude of benefits to our healthcare service. Healthcare providers are also under pressure to reduce the cost of care delivery and efficiently manage resources, as well as ensure that patient data stays secure which was clear from the large amount of funding requested. This is where technology will play a pivotal role.

Healthcare networks and devices are becoming significantly more complex, thanks to the wide adoption of connected devices by both healthcare professionals and patients. This presents a challenge for any IT department, who need to support these initiatives with strong and scalable Wi-Fi solutions to ensure that those who need to access the network can do so quickly and flawlessly.

Osbourne claims that the funds will “deliver better connected services for patients and ensure that doctors and nurses have the information they need at their fingertips” but a connected healthcare system can only be effective if it keeps patients safe and their data secure. Healthcare providers should look to a Network Access Control (NAC) solution to ensure not only that the network itself is secure, but that those who are accessing it via devices only receive access to the data they are authorized to. This safeguards against medical device misconfigurations, vulnerabilities and the wrong information ending up in the wrong hands compromising patient confidentiality.”

In his address to Parliament, the Chancellor announced a wave of cuts to Whitehall Departments’ budgets. The Department of Health will see its budget shrink by 25 percent, while the Cabinet Office will see its budget fall by 26 percent. Digital transformation will underpin these savings, and the Chancellor also announced that an additional £450m will be allocated to the Government Digital Service (GDS) in order to deliver Government as a Platform, Verify and Common Technology Services.

“With over 32,000 public sector organisations in the UK, many of which are now facing more pressure on budgets than ever before, it has never been more important to deliver digitally transformed public service for less,” said Simon Hansford, CEO of Skyscape Cloud Services. “As a company, our motto has always been to do what is right for the public sector and the tax payer. Our rapid growth has enabled us to pass on economies of scale to our customers, many of which are impacted by today’s Spending Review. This latest wave of price reductions demonstrates our ongoing commitment to supporting public sector organisations as they face new financial challenges in the years ahead.”

Hansford concluded “Much has been achieved in bringing about a digital revolution in Whitehall over the past five years. The G-Cloud Framework, for instance, has been an unprecedented catalyst for change. In little over three years the playing field has opened, enabling SMEs to bring their services to the public sector IT market, which has dramatically boosted innovation and competition. We welcome the additional funds that have been allocated to the GDS in helping to realise cost and efficiency savings by embracing innovative technologies, and transforming the citizen’s experience of government service.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine