By Mark McSherry
The CEO of Sage Group plc, the Newcastle-based FTSE 100 global tech business, has urged the UK government to help fully digitise the operating environment for small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) — a move he said would deliver £232 billion of value to the economy.
Sage is a global provider of accounting, financial, HR and payroll technology for SMEs.
Sage CEO Steve Hare urged the government to prioritise the development of a “single digital identity.”
He said such a move “would offer an efficient and streamlined method of accessing public services and private sector applications, eliminating the need for multiple logins and passwords, and reducing administrative burdens and costs for individuals and businesses.”
Hare said the UK budget in March will be a “crucial moment to demonstrate the government’s commitment to the UK tech sector.”
Hare said: “We need to see bold and decisive action, such as increased tax incentives for start-ups, investment in digital infrastructure, and policies that make it easier for businesses to access talent from around the world.”
In a wide-ranging statement, Hare said: “As the CEO of a global tech company born and listed in the UK, I’m proud to be part of a sector that has the potential to drive innovation, create jobs, and boost the British economy.
“But like the Prime Minister, I wish there were more companies like Sage in the UK.
“A recent article in the Sunday Times highlighted France’s push to lead the way in Europe’s tech scene.
“While London has traditionally been seen as Europe’s tech hub, there are concerns that the UK is falling behind, particularly when it comes to access to financing and Government support.
“As a global company with a significant French business – we commend the intense focus on tech, but it’s a wake-up call for the UK Govt if the UK is to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving global tech landscape.
“It’s great to see that the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is focused on boosting tech investment, but the upcoming budget in March will be a crucial moment to demonstrate the government’s commitment to the UK tech sector.
“We need to see bold and decisive action, such as increased tax incentives for start-ups, investment in digital infrastructure, and policies that make it easier for businesses to access talent from around the world.
“But it’s not just about government support. We as tech leaders have a responsibility to help drive growth in the sector. This means creating a culture of innovation and collaboration, investing in R&D, and building networks to support entrepreneurs and start-ups.
“France’s success in the tech sector is not just down to government policies, but also its position as a driving force in the ambitious EU agenda to digitize its economies, known as the ‘digital decade.’
“The EU has set out targets and plans for things like e-invoicing all intra-EU business by 2028, which will accelerate the tech sector and create a more level playing field for all businesses in the EU.
“As a leader in the UK tech sector, I’m optimistic about the future, but we need to be proactive in addressing the challenges we face.
“We must work together with government, investors, and other stakeholders to create an environment that supports innovation and growth.
“Fully digitising the operating environment for SMEs would deliver £232 billion of value to the economy.
“To support this ambition, I believe the government must prioritise the development of a single digital identity that is both unified and secure.
“Such an identity would offer an efficient and streamlined method of accessing public services and private sector applications, eliminating the need for multiple logins and passwords, and reducing administrative burdens and costs for individuals and businesses.
“To achieve these goals and maintain our position as a leader in the digital age, it is crucial that the government also focuses on digital adoption rates, smarter use of data, more automation of business processes and an upskilled UK workforce.
“Then we can ensure that the UK remains a global leader in the digital age, and that we continue to drive the innovations that will shape the future.”