Budget 2018: Digital tax, Apprenticeship levy, Investment


Budget 2018: Digital tax, Apprenticeship levy, Investment

As we always ask, concentrating on industry matters, what is of interest to an electronics audience? There is little that is directly related to technology funding (such as the AI, driverless cars and STEM funding last year). But there are a few announcements to note.

Quantum technologies

The government will invest a further £235 million to support the development and commercialisation of “quantum technologies”, it says, including up to £70 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and £35 million to support a new national quantum computing centre.

These technologies will transform capabilities in computing, sensing and communications, bringing promising new approaches to solving global problems such as disease and climate change. This investment is in addition to the government’s recent £80 million extension of the Quantum Technology Hubs and takes overall funding for the second phase of the UK’s world-leading National Quantum Technology Programme to £315 million.

Made smarter

As part of this investment in R&D, the government announces it will increase the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund by £1.1 billion, intended to support “technologies of the future”.

This includes up to £121 million for Made Smarter to support the transformation of manufacturing through digitally-enabled technologies, such as the Internet of Things and virtual reality

Digital services tax

Hammond stated that the UK will levy a 2% digital services tax on large digital firms. It is expected to raise £400m a year, he says.

From April 2020, large social media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces will pay a 2% tax on the revenues they earn which are linked to UK users.

Apprenticeship levy

In terms of the apprenticeship levy, there will be a couple of changes.

From April, large businesses will be able to invest up to 25% of their apprenticeship levy to support apprentices in their supply chain.

Some employers will pay half of what they currently pay for apprenticeship training – from 10% to 5%. The government will pay the remaining 95%.

Investment Allowance

Something which may be of interest to businesses, the government will increase the Annual Investment Allowance five-fold from £200,000 to £1 million to help businesses to invest and grow.

Also, from October 2018, businesses will be able to deduct 2% of the cost of any new non-residential structures and buildings off their profits before they pay tax.


Finally, on Brexit, the government is providing £500 million of additional funding for departments to prepare for Brexit for 2019-20. This is on top of the £1.5 billion already announced for that year, it says.

You can read details of the Budget on the Treasury website, including a PDF of the full contents.