A Parliamentary business committee has called for a new tax break for small businesses to invest in robotics and automation.
Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee says the government should introduce a tax incentive to encourage investment in new technology in the next Budget.
Incentivising SMEs to invest in automation and robotic will help address Britain’s flat-lining productivity, said the committee, benefiting both small businesses and the economy as a whole. The lack of awareness and understanding of automation is harming productivity, says its report . Britain’s productivity crisis risks making UK-based firms less attractive than their foreign rivals.
France already has targeted incentives for investment in small business robotics and automation.
Otherwise the UK risks being left behind by other countries, allowing them “to steal a march” in what the committee calls a new “industrial revolution”. The UK ranks 22nd worldwide in number of robots per person.
The report warned that if the UK fails to adapt then “businesses, investment and jobs will move overseas”.
The committee also called for the government to launch a robot and artificial intelligence strategy by the end of 2020.
Committee chair and Labour MP Rachel Reeves said a “UK robot and AI strategy” must “help to provide the support needed for British businesses, universities and research centres to succeed”.
“The government should work with universities and businesses to provide the advice, networking and access to finance necessary for the UK to reap the benefits of domestic tech success stories.
“The Government has failed to provide the leadership needed to help drive investment in automation and robot technologies. If we are to reap the potential benefits in the future of improved living standards, more fulfilling work, and the 4-day working week, the Government needs to do more to support British businesses and universities to collaborate and innovate.”