The government has been urged to explain why its Digital Strategy is more than six months overdue in a new report which claims the country could be undermined on digital single market negotiations due to Brexit.
In a Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee report published today, MPs have said the government must build on its digital economy success so far.
The UK economy has the highest percentage of GDP attributed to the digital economy of all European nations, the report claims, adding that digital industries in the UK grew two and a half times faster than the whole economy in the decade to 2013. But more needs to be done, it stressed.
The government was due to publish its Government Digital Strategy earlier this year, but this has yet to materialise six months later.
"We regret this delay, and call on the government to explain the reasons for it, and why they initiated a three-week consultation over the Christmas break on what the government should include in the strategy," said the report.
"While the government is supporting the digital economy, including support of Innovate UK, Tech City and Tech North, there is no overall strategy for this support.
"We hope that the digital strategy will provide an overview of present and future government policy on the digital economy, which will be published as soon as possible, and in its reply the government must provide us with an update of any changes made to the strategy since it was originally written."
"The decision to leave the EU risks undermining the UK's dominance in this policy area"
Because the Digital Strategy is due to be published more than six months after it was originally intended to be, it will now have to include details on the impact of the UK's decision to leave the UK, the report claims.
It says that providing clarity on the status of workers from the EU who currently work in the UK is essential, stressing that that the digital sector relies on these skilled staff.
Brexit could have other effects on the digital economy, including the UK's role in laying out a path to the digital single market.
Plans to create the digital single market began last year and comprise a mix of legislative and non-legislative measures due to come into force before next year. The plans aim to create new digital opportunities for citizens and businesses, encourage innovation, and ensure people reap the benefits of digital tech in their daily lives.
But the country's role in negotiations could be undermined now the UK plans to leave the EU, the report said.
"The decision to leave the EU risks undermining the UK's dominance in this policy area," it said. "We could have led on the digital single market, but instead we will be having to follow. The government must address this situation, to stop investor confidence further draining away, with firms relocating to other countries in Europe to take advantage of the digital single market."
Following the cabinet reshuffle from new prime minister Theresa May, Matt Hancock, Conservative MP for West Suffolk, became minister of state for digital and culture, replacing Ed Vaizey. Prior to that, Hancock had been minister for the Cabinet Office and oversaw the Digital Marketplace, which includes the G-Cloud, Crown Hosting, and Digital Outcomes and Specialists frameworks.
Hancock (pictured) tweeted on Friday afternoon to say he is "energised to take up the challenge to make UK [the] tech and cultural centre of the world".
This morning, he weighed in on the news that UK firm ARM Holdings has been acquired by Japanese multinational SoftBank.
Analysts told CRN this morning that more UK companies could be snapped up as the weak pound makes them appear as bargains to the rest of the world.
Hancock tweeted: "The proposed investment of £24bn in ARM by SoftBank highlights Britain's capability to grow and build world-beating tech companies."
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany
In the wake of yet another lawsuit involving Oracle, we run through 10 of the vendor's biggest court battles
CEO Chuck Robbins says Cisco will use the Catalyst 9000 product range as a template for future launches
Today saw 14 of the UK IT channel's biggest hitters come together to determine the winners of CRN's WiC awards. But what does being a WiC judge actually involve? Doug Woodburn reports