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Economy Economy

The world’s most dynamic digital economy

Last updated: 02:27pm 8 December 2019

The world’s most dynamic digital economy, giving digital businesses access to the investment, skills and talent they need to succeed.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.76

Our verdict

As digital industries expand, the government is promoting the shift towards the digital marketplace by working on different fronts, from clamping down on online harms to investing in innovation and technological skills. This policy is a pledge to make the UK the world’s most dynamic digital economy. We’re looking for evidence of the growth of UK digital industries and for government assistance in providing “investment, skills and talent”.

Since 2017, the number of business in the information and communication industry has grown by 0.1% per year, reaching 226,000 in 2019.  In 2018, the sector had the highest proportion of high-growth companies, at 8.5%. Nevertheless, on a global level there are nations with higher digital growth rates. ICT goods exports from the UK fell in 2017. In the same period, ICT exports from China grew from 26.4% to 27%. High-tech exports from the UK increased from $75 billion in 2016 to $76.5 billion in 2018. Armenia’s rose from $21 billion to $36 billion; China went from $594 billion to $654 billion in 2016-17 alone.

In terms of government support for digital businesses, a number of related policies are particularly relevant:

Our verdicts for these are either ‘in progress’ or ‘done’, so there is certainly work being done by government to fulfil this part of its pledge.

The number of digital businesses has increased but the UK is not outperforming all other countries in terms of its dynamism, and many of the government initiatives to support digital business are at an early stage of development. There is forward movement, but the journey towards becoming the world’s most dynamic digital economy remains ‘in progress’.

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There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.