Queen unveils Digital Economy Bill to boost UK business

Today's Queen's Speech included new measures to help build better broadband infrastructure and approve commercial drone flight for businesses

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UK businesses are set to reap the benefits of a number of new Bills unveiled by the Queen during her speech to mark the 65th state opening of parliament today.

The 21-Bill agenda included a Digital Economy Bill which will look to ensure the country “remains at the forefront of the global 21st century economy”.

This Digital Economy Bill will give every household, and business premises, a legal right to a fast broadband connection and will establish laws to help telecommunications providers build better broadband infrastructure and enable customers to receive automatic compensation if they have problems.

Similarly, the Modern Transport Bill will aim to create new jobs and fuel economic growth through the approval of the UK’s first commercial spaceports, as well as new laws for driverless cars and commercial drone flight for businesses.

Also on the agenda is the Local Growth and Jobs Bill which will give local authorities full control of money raised through business rates to help attract more business and investment into local areas. This will be achieved through a transfer of £13bn to councils by allowing them to retain 100% of the business rates they collect – and by enabling combined authority mayors to fund infrastructure projects with the support of local business by levying business rate supplements.

Commenting on the Digital Economy Bill, Alison Vincent, CTO of Cisco UKI, said:

“The Digital Economy Bill and the resulting measures announced by the Queen today are a clear reflection of Britain’s commitment to a digital future and emphasise a continued drive towards establishing the UK as a digital world leader.

“By laying the foundations and establishing broadband as an essential pillar to the future of the UK economy, businesses will be able to drive innovation and build a framework that will improve productivity, fuel collaboration, capitalise of business opportunity and accelerate the UK digital economy.”

Jonathan Kinsey, head of CBRE Rating, added: “After two budget announcements and 10 devolution deals, the Queen’s Speech has finally set the ball rolling on a bill to devolve business rates to local authorities. While the devolution of business rates to all councils won’t be completed until 2020, the long awaited bill will set out a framework for delivery of the scheme.”

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