What is our ambition?
The goal of the Digital Britain programme is to secure the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading digital knowledge economies.
What is Digital Britain?
The Digital Britain programme carries forward the actions identified in the Digital Britain White Paper (‘The White Paper’), published on 16 June 2009, based around four key themes:
- modernising our communications infrastructure;
- developing a strong legal framework to enable our creative industries to thrive in a digital world;
- enabling all to participate in a digital economy and society; and,
- modernising Government, improving its use and handling of digital information and promoting the progressive digital switchover of public service delivery.
Why is it needed?
The programme contributes towards strengthening the digital economy. By some
definitions the digital economy generated around £125 billion in gross value added (GVA) in 2007, representing around 10% of UK GDP. In the same year the digital economy employed over 2.1 million people, representing around 6% of total UK employment. But beyond the immediate companies, UK economic activity in manufacturing and services – including public services – are increasingly based on digital and broadband technologies, meaning that the true national value of digital communications might be even greater.
Specific programme objectives
The Digital Britain White Paper set out 86 recommendations and actions across a wide
range of areas, aimed at delivering the benefits envisioned above. Key specific objectives
that will assist in securing those benefits include the following:
- The passing, subject to Parliamentary approval, of the Digital Economy Bill to facilitate further progress across a number of areas of the digital economy, including reform to the regulatory framework that governs investment in digital infrastructure; moves towards a Digital Radio Upgrade; and the introduction of powers to reduce or prevent online copyright infringement;
- Delivery of a Universal Service Commitment in broadband at a level of 2Mbps by 2012, plus establishment of a Final Third Project to deliver at least 90% coverage of Next Generation broadband for homes and businesses by 2017. Work is already underway to design the schemes for the levying and use of the Next Generation Fund. Consultations on these schemes are expected to be issued before the end of the year and the legislative measures underpinning the levying of the Fund are expected to be set out in the Finance Bill 2010;
- Delivery of a Digital Radio Upgrade from FM to DAB and from MW to FM, scheduled for end 2015, once criteria for digital listening and coverage are achieved;
- The establishment of a framework that will ensure high quality provision of public service content in the UK, including sustainable multi-platform regional news. The Government has consulted on this issue and measures to facilitate progress are included in the Digital Economy Bill;
- The establishment of a programme of work to drive Digital Participation, led by Ofcom who will be closely supported by a Consortium of Stakeholders, and working closely with the Champion for Digital Inclusion. The work will proceed for a period of 3 years from Autumn 2009 with funding of up to £12m available, and progress will be evaluated by Ministers after 12 months;
- The establishment of a work programme to improve digital skills in the UK, to ensure that we can meet the demands of sectors such as digital information and communications that are vital to the future of the UK economy and to enable UK citizens to participate fully in the wider benefits of the digital economy;
- Investment, through the Digital Economy Programme, of £120m in new research and training to prepare the country for the next 20 years of digital evolution; and,
- A significant improvement in the Government’s performance as a deliverer of public services, through the improved use of digital technology. As part of this, the Government has invited each Government Department to identify, by 2012, two services to form part of the Digital Switchover of Public Services.