14.On 29 December 2015, the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey MP, announced a consultation on the Government’s Digital Strategy. The announcement stated that, in early 2016, the Government would be publishing its Digital Strategy, which would be an overview of the Government’s digital objectives for the next five years: “Working with colleagues across government it will set the agenda for the rest of the Parliament on digital, so that the UK continues to lead the way”. The consultation had no terms of reference, simply the following request, “so challenge us—push us to do more. Let’s show the rest of the world how it’s done”, with the deadline of 19 January 2016. However, the Minister told us in March 2016 that the strategy would not be published until after June 2016, following the European Union referendum.
15.In oral evidence, the Minister indicated what might be included in the digital strategy: it will have sections linking the digital economy to different policy areas including health, transport, and energy. It will also cover the infrastructure, the tech economy, digital skills, and the digital government, and “will give a good overview of what the Government are doing in terms of digital”. While the Government is supporting the digital economy, including supporting the work of Innovate UK, Tech City, Tech North and the digital hubs across the country, the Digital Strategy needs to unify and build on this work.
16.We look forward to the publication of the Government’s Digital Strategy, in the summer of 2016 (six months later than expected), which should explain how the Government will build on its success. 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.
17.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.
18.The Government must also explain how the Digital Strategy will be affected by the referendum result. It should also set out in its reply and in the Digital Strategy a list of specific, current EU negotiations relating to the digital economy.
19.At the forefront of the issues explained, the Digital Strategy must address head on the status of digitally-skilled workers from the European Union who currently work in the UK. The digital sector relies on skilled workforce from the European Union, and those individuals’ rights to remain in the country must be addressed, and at the earliest opportunity.
15 Q 511
16 Q 511 and Q 486
15 July 2016