News story: Winter 2015 floods: government response

Government departments, councils and the Environment Agency are working together to do everything they can to help communities recover from the extreme weather during December 2015.

The ground remains wet, and there’s rain forecast, so you should continue to check your flood risk and keep up to date by following @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter.

Government support for homes, businesses, farmers and councils

Households and businesses

An additional £51 million to support households and businesses affected by the floods has been announced by the Chancellor. This takes the total support pledged by the government to over £60 million. In particular we will:

  • help the people directly affected by the floods – providing Local Authorities with over £500 for each household affected; for example, to help with temporary accommodation costs whilst we work to get people back into their homes

  • support people as they protect their homes against future floods by providing grants of up to £5000, so they can install new flood barriers, replace doors and windows with water resistant alternatives, or move electricity sockets up to a safer level

  • ensure flood affected businesses that have had their trading disrupted can get back on their feet, with funding equivalent to £2,500 provided to Local Authorities for each business affected and funding specifically provided for farmers to help restore their land

We’ll have more information shortly on how households and businesses can get this support. The Community Recovery Scheme (worth nearly £40 million) will be run by local authorities and will provide targeted support on the same basis as in the floods in 2013 to 2014.

Flood affected communities will not face Council Tax or business rates bills for their homes and businesses for as long as they are out of their properties.

Farmers

Grants worth up to £20,000 will be available to farmers who have been affected by flooding to help restore damaged agricultural land. An application form and guidance will be available on GOV.UK from Friday 18 December. Farmers experiencing difficulties getting online can call the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301.

The Rural Payments Agency has published guidance about farm inspections, animal movements, TB testing, impacts on Basic Payment Scheme eligibility, and other Cross Compliance requirements.

Local authorities

We will be opening the Bellwin scheme for councils affected by floods. Under this scheme, councils can apply to have 100% of their costs above threshold reimbursed by the government.

We will help Cumbria and Lancashire assess the damage to the local highway network following the events over the weekend, to allow us to understand what additional local transport infrastructure funding could be provided to help repair roads and bridges damaged.

Government action on flood defences

Flood defences helped to protect 11,000 homes across the north of England, and provided vital time for homes and businesses to be evacuated as well as reducing the impact.

Over the next 6 years we will be investing £2.3 billion in flood defences which is a real terms increase on the £1.7 billion invested in the last Parliament. This in turn is a real terms increase on the £1.5 billion spent between 2005 and 2010.

In addition, flood maintenance spending will be protected in real terms over this Parliament.

We’re providing an additional £10 million so that the Environment Agency can repair flood defences that were recently damaged.

Flood insurance

The insurance industry is responding with help for homeowners. The Association of British Insurers has published a film on how to protect your home if you live in a flood prone area, or make a claim if you’re recovering from a flood. You can find more information on the Association’s website.

Flood insurance: protecting your home and making a claim

Health

Guidance on recovering from floods:

Advice and information

Met Office

For the latest weather warnings visit the Met Office website or follow them on Twitter: @MetOffice.

Highways England

For advice on travel by road visit the Highways England website or follow them on Twitter: @HighwaysEngland.

National Rail

Check with National Rail Enquiries for the latest updates on service disruptions.

Government announcements

Thursday 17 December 2015

Monday 14 December 2015

Sunday 13 December 2015

Friday 11 December 2015

Thursday 10 December 2015

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Monday 7 December 2015

Sunday 6 December 2015

Saturday 5 December 2015

Friday 4 December 2015

Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/north-west-england-floods-2015-government-response

Press release: UK government secures EU compensation for Energy Intensive Industries

The UK Energy Intensive Industries (EIIs) have today (17 December 2015) been granted state aid compensation for the cost of renewables, giving the UK steel industry greater certainty around energy costs and saving the sector hundreds of millions of pounds, following concerted EU engagement led by Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

The Prime Minister announced on 28 October 2015 that compensation for EIIs would be paid from the date state aid clearance comes through. Today, approval has been granted from the European Commission for the UK government to commence relief in line with initial notification for the most electricity intensive businesses for the costs of renewables policy in their bills. The news was confirmed personally to Mr Javid by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a phone call early this morning.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

This is very welcome news and meets a commitment we made to deliver energy compensation for the steel industry by the end of the year. Relief from energy costs will save our steel industry hundreds of millions of pounds.

This comes on top of action we have taken in recent months on procurement, anti-dumping and EU emissions directives, as we do all we can to give our steel industry and workers a more secure and sustainable future.

Relief for Energy Intensive Industries was one of UK Steel’s ‘5 asks’ during the government’s steel summit earlier this year and following concerted engagement by the government it has now been granted.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:

The Business Secretary’s support in driving this deal through the Brussels machinery on behalf of the steel industry is very welcome. It sends a very important signal that the government is backing steel and will continue to support the industry at this challenging time.

In the Autumn Statement 2015, the Chancellor went further and announced that EIIs, including the steel industry, will be exempt from the policy costs of the Renewable Obligation and Feed-in Tariffs, to ensure that they have long-term certainty and remain competitive. Compensation will continue to be paid until the exemption is in place.

Guidance will be published by the government in January 2016 and payments will be backdated to the date that state aid clearance comes through.

This news on state aid clearance comes as government laid a written ministerial statement (WMS) updating Parliament on the series of steps that have been taken to help the steel industry. Further details can be found in today’s WMS.

Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-government-secures-eu-compensation-for-energy-intensive-industries

Press release: New IT free trade deal could boost UK exports by £113 million

  • The 24 WTO members committing to ITA II are Albania, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, European Union, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.

  • Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-it-free-trade-deal-could-boost-uk-exports-by-113-million

    Press release: President of CBI awarded honorary CBE

    Business Secretary Sajid Javid, has today (16 December 2015) bestowed an honorary CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) on Paul Drechsler, President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

    Mr Drechsler, who is an Irish citizen, received the honour for his significant contribution to voluntary and charitable services.

    The businessman is also Chairman of Bibby Line Group, Chairman of Business in the Community’s Education Leadership Team, a member of the Trinity College Dublin Business School Advisory Board, and a board member of Business in the Community (BitC).

    It was during nearly a decade as Chief Executive and then also Chairman of the Wates Group that Mr Drechsler built a reputation as a champion for young people in businesses and a leader in sustainable development.

    Serving on the board of trustees for BitC, a business community outreach charity promoting responsible business, he has helped ensure that over 500 schools across the most deprived areas of the UK have built partnerships with business. This has helped young people leave school with the aspirations, skills and motivation required to equip them for life in the workplace.

    Mr Drechsler was Chairman of the National Skills Funding Agency Advisory Board until September 2015 and is currently Chairman of Teach First, a charity which aims to end inequality of education by building a community of exceptional leaders in the most disadvantaged schools across the UK.

    The ceremony was conducted today (16 December 2015) at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

    Speaking at the event, Mr Javid said:

    I’m delighted to present this award to Paul Drechsler for the exceptional work he has done to champion young people in business.

    Paul has used his position and expertise in business to connect with a wide range of young people, opening doors and extending opportunity to all.

    Notes to editors:

    Non-British citizens are not entitled to receive their honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace and are instead presented with their awards by the relevant Secretary of State.

    Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/president-of-cbi-awarded-honorary-cbe

    Press release: Government launches review to improve university research funding

    Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson today (16 December 2015) launched a UK-wide review of university research funding to cut red tape so that universities can focus more on delivering the world-leading research for which the UK is renowned.

    Following the decision to protect the £4.7 billion annual science and research budget in real terms during this Parliament, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) review will help ensure the government gets the most return from its investment.

    The review will be chaired by the President of the British Academy and former World Bank Chief Economist Lord Nicholas Stern. He will be assisted by a high-level steering group of academic experts, including the Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, Professor Julia King, and the Past President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Professor Sir John Tooke.

    Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

    Excellent research drives productivity and is vital for delivering a better quality of life for everyone. The government has committed to protect science and research in real terms to the end of the decade, and now we need to make sure we’re getting the most from this investment.

    I’m delighted that Lord Stern has agreed to lead this review of the Research Excellence Framework and I look forward to working with the panel to carry out this work. As a renowned academic with experience of working at the highest levels of government, he and the members of the steering group will bring valuable expertise to the review.

    President of the British Academy Lord Stern said:

    I look forward to chairing this review of the Research Excellence Framework and to working with such a distinguished panel. Research assessment is a vital element in the promotion of excellence. The excellence of our research is one of the UK’s great assets, which we must continue to nurture. But it is essential that research assessment remains fit for purpose, is efficient, and carries the confidence of the UK research community.

    Research assessment should not unwittingly introduce incentives for perverse behaviour, nor should it be overly burdensome. Excellence, properly defined, must remain the central basis for allocating support and funding for research. We will explore ways in which a simpler, lighter-touch, system for the REF might be developed.

    Research Excellence Framework (REF)

    The REF is the system which assesses the quality of research carried out in UK higher education institutions and allocates public research funding according to their performance. REF2014 was used in allocating approximately £1.6 billion for research to English universities in 2015 to 2016.

    As announced in the Spending Review, the government is taking forward a review of the REF to ensure future university research funding is allocated more efficiently, offers greater rewards for excellent research and reduces the administrative burden on institutions.

    Building on position of strength

    International benchmarking has shown that past research assessment exercises have improved the quality of UK research. This review will build on this existing position of strength, rigorous assessment and focus on excellence by:

    • investigating different approaches to the evaluation of UK higher education research performance to strengthen the focus on research excellence and impact while reducing administrative burden on the sector
    • drawing on evidence from the evaluation of the last REF in 2014 and considering other models of research performance assessment
    • providing options for future iterations of the REF with a focus on a simpler, lighter-touch method of research assessment that uses data and metrics more effectively while retaining the benefits of peer review

    High-level steering group

    The review steering group will include:

    • Professor Julia Black, Professor of Law and Pro-director for Research, London School of Economics
    • Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, immunologist and Vice-Chancellor, Cambridge University
    • Professor Dame Vicki Bruce, psychologist, Newcastle University
    • Professor Linda Colley, historian, Princeton University
    • Gareth Davies, Director General of Business and Science, BIS
    • Professor Julia King, The Baroness Brown of Cambridge, engineer and Vice-Chancellor, Aston University
    • Professor Alex Halliday, geochemist, Oxford University and Vice-President and Physical Secretary, The Royal Society
    • Professor Anton Muscatelli, economist and Vice-Chancellor, Glasgow University
    • Professor Sir John Tooke, medical scientist, UCL and Past President, Academy of Medical Sciences

    Lord Stern is expected to deliver his review of the REF to the government in summer 2016.

    Notes to editors

    1. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is an exercise that takes place every 5 to 6 years to assess the quality of research produced from UK universities.
    2. The results of the REF are used by higher education funding bodies across the UK to inform the allocation of annual Quality-Related (QR) research funding to individual higher education institutions. This is the university block grant, which for English universities is allocated from the £4.7 billion science and research budget and amounted to circa £1.6 billion in 2015 to 2016.

    3. The remainder of the £4.7 billion science and research budget funds, for example, competitive grants awarded by the Research Councils.

    4. Over 30 years the REF and its predecessors have driven a sustained improvement in the quality and productivity of the UK research base. Costs for undertaking REF2014 have been estimated at £246 million of which £232 million were costs to the HE sector.

    Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-review-to-improve-university-research-funding

    Press release: Reappointment of Chief Executive for the Natural Environment Research Council

    Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson today (14 December 2015) announced the reappointment of Professor Duncan Wingham as Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

    Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

    I am very pleased to reappoint Professor Wingham for a further term as Chief Executive of NERC. His breadth of experience and expertise in environmental science will continue to be important as he leads NERC to support world-class science and increase knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

    Sir Anthony Cleaver, Chair of NERC said:

    Duncan has been an outstanding Chief Executive of NERC and I am delighted that his term of office has been extended. His focus on demonstrating the impact of research and his vision and clarity of thinking have helped maintain Britain’s leading position in environmental research.

    Professor Wingham said:

    There has never been a more exciting time in UK environmental research, with initiatives such as those in the Southern Ocean and Artic pushing the frontier of our knowledge further promising long-term gains in our well-being and security. It will be a privilege to serve NERC and our community again as we work with the public, investigators, funders, industry and government to discover new approaches to the grand challenges faced by our society.

    The appointment is from 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2017.

    NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding research in atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic sciences. In the 2015 Spending Review, the government protected science funding of £4.7 billion in real terms over the Parliament. Growth in the ring-fenced budget will be used to invest in a new £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund.

    Notes for Editors

    1. NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world’s most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC is a non-departmental public body, which receives funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Working internationally, NERC has bases in the most hostile parts of the planet. They run a fleet of research ships and aircraft and invest in satellite technology to monitor gradual environmental change on a global scale. NERC provide knowledge, forewarning and solutions to the key global environmental challenges facing society.

    2. Professor Wingham received a BSc from the University of Leeds in 1979, and a PhD from the University of Bath in 1984, both in physics. He joined University College London in 1986, where he held lecturing posts at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory and the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. He was appointed as a Chair in the Department of Space and Climate Physics in 1996, and was Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at UCL from 2005 to 2010. He was founder and Director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) from 2000 to 2005, which among other things discovered the widespread mass loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its origin in accelerated ocean melting. He was first appointed as NERC Chief Executive in 2011.

    Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/reappointment-of-chief-executive-for-the-natural-environment-research-council

    News story: North west England floods 2015: government response

    Government departments, councils and the Environment Agency are working together to do everything they can to help communities recover from the extreme weather during December 2015.

    Latest situation: 10 December 2015

    Communities are asked to remain vigilant and to check flood warnings as more rain is forecast over the weekend. Environment Agency staff are on the ground with other emergency response staff and military personnel to help people affected.

    With flood alerts and warnings still in place for many areas of the north of England, government is working to ensure local emergency responders have everything they need.

    You can check your flood risk and keep up to date by following @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter.

    Government support for homes, businesses, farmers and councils

    An additional £51 million to support households and businesses affected by the floods has been announced by the Chancellor. This takes the total support pledged by the government to over £60 million.

    Support payments worth up to £20,000 will be available to farmers across Cumbria and North Lancashire who have been affected by flooding to help restore damaged agricultural land.

    Business rates and council tax relief for affected communities has been announced by the Communities and Local Government Secretary.

    We will be opening the Bellwin scheme for councils affected by floods, and that 100% of eligible costs will be met by the government.

    Government action on flood defences

    Flood defences protected 8,600 homes across the north of England and, provided vital time for homes and businesses to be evacuated as well as reducing the impact.

    Over the next 6 years we will be investing £2.3 billion in flood defences which is a real terms increase on the £1.7 billion invested in the last Parliament. This in turn is a real terms increase on the £1.5 billion spent between 2005 and 2010.

    In addition, flood maintenance spending will be protected in real terms over this Parliament.

    Flood insurance

    The insurance industry is responding with help for homeowners. The Association of British Insurers has published a film on how to protect your home if you live in a flood prone area, or make a claim if you’re recovering from a flood. You can find more information on the Association’s website.

    Flood insurance: protecting your home and making a claim

    Health

    Guidance on recovering from floods:

    Advice and information

    Met Office

    For the latest weather warnings visit the Met Office website or follow them on Twitter: @MetOffice.

    Highways England

    For advice on travel by road visit the Highways England website or follow them on Twitter: @HighwaysEngland.

    National Rail

    Check with National Rail Enquiries for the latest updates on service disruptions.

    Government announcements

    Thursday 10 December 2015

    Wednesday 9 December 2015

    Tuesday 8 December 2015

    Monday 7 December 2015

    Sunday 6 December 2015

    Saturday 5 December 2015

    Friday 4 December 2015

    Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/north-west-england-floods-2015-government-response

    News story: New funding for flood-affected businesses

    Today the Chancellor announced additional funding to support those affected by last weekend’s floods in Cumbria and Lancashire.

    As part of that, BIS has committed £5 million for businesses, with funding equivalent to £2,500 per business provided to local authorities. It’s estimated that 2,000 firms may have been impacted by the floods.

    Minister for Small Business Anna Soubry said:

    We are providing £5 million of quick support for businesses forced to close their doors due to the floods. Our priority is to help these hard working business owners get back on their feet, so they can open their shop doors and be back in business for Christmas.

    Yesterday the Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced council tax and business rate relief for those flooded.

    Please contact your local Growth Hub for more information on how to access the business support.

    Cumbria

    Growth Hub contacts for Cumbria:
    Telephone: 0844 257 8450 or email info@cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk

    Lancashire

    Growth Hub contacts for Lancashire:
    Telephone: 0800 488 0057 or visit www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk

    North East

    North East Growth Hub including Northumberland:
    Visit http://negrowthhub.co.uk/

    Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-for-flood-affected-businesses

    Press release: UK leadership unlocks pay TV for holidaymakers inside EU

    For the first time, UK consumers will be able to access digital subscriptions such as Netflix when travelling in other EU countries, thanks to new European Commission proposals championed by the government.

    Today’s Digital Single Market (DSM) proposals on portability follow repeated calls from the Prime Minister and other UK ministers for the EU to deliver a clear set of digital rights for consumers across member states.

    As well as allowing them to watch films or sport on subscription services while on holiday, UK consumers will have a clearer set of rules when they buy digital content such as games or music from elsewhere in the EU.

    This change also reinforces one of the key priorities for the government’s EU reform agenda: reducing red-tape and boosting competitiveness in a way that works for businesses and consumers across the EU.

    The Prime Minister David Cameron said:

    The UK has been pushing for a digital single market that delivers for consumers across the EU. People who have paid for movies or sport subscriptions at home want to be able to use them across Europe.

    These proposals deliver just that, and show how UK leadership can secure a flexible single market that works for EU consumers and businesses.

    I look forward to swift agreement on these proposals.

    Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

    We have been calling for people to be able to use their online media services like Netflix and Amazon Prime anywhere they travel to in the EU. These proposals should create a simple way to do just that, without placing burdensome costs on businesses.

    The UK has been at the forefront of sketching out what a digital single market should look like, and we have driven forward these common sense measures that will deliver benefits for an increasingly mobile, tech-savvy public.

    We will be working hard to ensure consumers benefit as soon as possible.

    The Commission proposals include copyright changes that will make it easier for subscription services to be used in other EU countries. This is currently difficult to do because of territorial copyright agreements which govern where services can be accessed.

    Although they are targeted at subscription services, public broadcasters such as the BBC who want to introduce portable services will also be able to do so.

    Notes to editors

    1. The Commission’s strategy in full.

    2. The proposals for a regulation on ensuring the cross-border portability of online content services will now be finalised through the EU’s legislative procedure, in which legislative proposals are discussed between the Commission, member states and the European Parliament. The UK will take an active part in these negotiations. The aim is for the portability regulation to come into force in 2017.

    3. The Communication ‘Towards a modern, more European copyright framework’ is a document setting out the Commission’s proposed approach on other aspects of copyright reform. The document includes a discussion of reforms to improve the availability of creative content between member states, reforms to certain copyright exceptions, measures to ensure a well-functioning market for copyright, and ensuring an effective and balanced IP enforcement system. More detailed proposals will follow in 2016.

    4. Similarly the proposed directives on contract rules for digital content and for the online sale of tangible goods will be finalised through the EU’s legislative procedure. BIS will be discussing them with the Commission and interested stakeholders. It is expected that negotiations on the two proposed directives will begin in earnest early next year.

    Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-leadership-unlocks-pay-tv-for-holidaymakers-inside-eu

    Speech: Digital economy, intellectual property and small business

    I am very glad to be here today, and my thanks to Politeia for hosting this great event.

    Today I am going to be talking about the importance of the digital economy and intellectual property; the government’s commitment to this area; some of our past successes; and the challenges that we face in the future.

    The advance of the digital function

    Even a few years ago digital matters impacted on most people via the actions of special companies and products, which were quite distinct from most things that they experienced in life. Digital was, as it were, an addition to normal life.

    This is becoming ever less true. There are still special firms and products which deal with what might be called digital matters. But much else – perhaps most else – now has a digital component. As one trivial example I was fascinated earlier in the year to be shown a production process for washing machines in northern England – the only production of washing machines in the UK I was told.

    The most important part of these machines was what I call the computer part. This is very sophisticated and allows, at least in theory, processes to be amended after the machine has been built and sold.

    I fully appreciate that all this is old hat to all of you and that what I have said constitutes nothing remarkable.

    That is quite true but I suspect there are many people who have not grasped that fact – or at least have only grasped a part of the story and have not realised the larger picture. We all have a responsibility to educate – in the widest sense of educate – others in this truth. Typically we cannot do so here because everyone is in on the secret!

    In any event the companies in this digital world are pivotal to the UK economy and indeed to continued small business creation and growth. I ought to add, that government realises this very well.

    We made this clear in the Autumn Statement. We are, for example, investing £1.8 billion in digital technology and transformation projects across the public sector over the next 4 years.

    We have also established the concept of ‘Digital Catapults’ – these help our SMEs to innovate speedily and with minimum risk, so that new digital products and services can be accelerated to market.

    The Digital Catapult in Kings Cross was opened by my ministerial colleague Ed Vaizey, in November. It provides a space for those concerned – academia, technologists and business – to advance their ideas from the concept stage through to commercialisation. It is also the home of the Copyright Hub. The aim of the Copyright Hub is to remove one of the excuses for piracy by making it easy and relatively cheap for potential users to seek and obtain permission to use works subject to copyright.

    £33 million has already been invested in a series of city demonstrator Catapult projects in Glasgow, Bristol, London and Peterborough to show what can be achieved by the imaginative use of technologies, and £50 million more will be invested over the next 5 years.

    A fundamental part of support for digital is ensuring access to broadband. Today, superfast broadband is available to over 83% of homes and businesses in the UK up from 45% in 2010. This is better than Germany, France, Italy and Spain, but we need to be world leading like Japan and South Korea. I have worked in South Korea and their hard work, obsession with getting a good education and their digital savviness have much to commend them.

    The good news here however is that things are getting better and by the end of 2017 superfast broadband will be available to 95% of homes and businesses in the UK. And the Prime Minister has announced a Universal Service Obligation of 10 megabytes from 2020 in recognition of the fact that broadband is in effect now a fourth utility, and a disruptive one at that.

    Disruption

    Joseph Schumpeter famously described capitalism as an engine of ‘creative destruction’. Innovation in goods, products and services creates new markets and destroys old ones.
    This insight certainly applies to digital, which is every bit as disruptive as power looms in the mills of Lancashire, the railways starting with Stockton to Darlington, and all the other great advances were in their time.

    And as in the other cases while the disruption can and does deliver great benefits, it often has a negative impact on existing businesses and individuals.

    Digital disruption has, for example, fundamentally altered the way consumers listen to and access music, and old world analogue business models would be unthinkable in today’s climate. That has caused businesses to rethink and as I said at the start nearly all businesses now need to do so in the wake of the digital revolution. My quite extensive experience of business is that they often struggle with dealing fast enough with their legacy businesses hurt by new technology. But in general grasping new opportunities is more easily accommodated in to corporate business culture.

    On the back of all this, a successful industry has been created. 1.46 million people are employed in digital tech companies in the UK. 50% of these have been formed since 2008, and 15% alone in 2013 to 2014. 98% of these are small businesses. And this will be news to most of you, 3 quarters of digital tech companies are based outside London.

    Maintaining an efficient intellectual property (IP) system in the UK

    As Minister for Intellectual Property (IP), I am naturally aware of the symbiotic relationship between digital and IP. Innovators must be able to protect and benefit from their IP.

    The UK is widely recognised as having a very good IP system by for example the Taylor Wessing’s Global IP Index popular with the British IP mafia as it puts us at number 1. And WIPO’s innovation index put us at number 2 this year, after Switzerland and well ahead of other economies of our scale and complexity.

    But, given the speed of change it is pertinent to ask whether our IP framework is fit for purpose.

    Hargreaves review

    This question was mostly recently examined by my fellow speaker today, Professor Ian Hargreaves. Broadly, he found that the IP framework was fit for purpose across the majority of IP rights, but amendments were needed to copyright policy.

    After an extensive programme of reform and legislation, concluding with the IP Act in October last year, we have made the system more robust, flexible, and, I hope, fit for the challenges of 21st century.

    The need with copyright was to make the system more flexible and efficient so that it did not stand in the way of digital innovation, but was still able to meet its central objective of rewarding creators and encouraging creativity.

    We did this by making copyright licensing more efficient and by removing copyright regulation from areas where it was unnecessary.

    Not all these changes met with universal approval, but I believe most of those affected are reasonably content.

    The data mining exception is a good example. There is no doubt that data mining benefits both the economy and individuals. For researchers in particular, data mining is important as it makes it much easier to analyse information and make advances.

    But it requires computers to make lots of copies of the works they are analysing, which raises copyright issues. Copyright was never intended to stand in the way of scientific research, which is why we introduced our new data mining exception, which makes it clear that where researchers have permission to access a copyright work, they also have permission to mine it.

    The new copyright exception for parody similarly reflects a cultural function that is important to our society. This was also very popular with some of the government’s critics – at the Guardian, in the BBC etc. The British sense of humour is almost part of our values.

    So to conclude on the changes, our system is in a good place, but the body of work kicked off by the Hargreaves Review serves to remind us that the IP framework will need to be reviewed and refreshed from time to time as the world changes around us.

    Digital single market (DSM)

    Digital and IP do not just concern us in the UK. We need also to ensure we benefit from Europe’s single market.

    The UK has long been a strong supporter of the single market, and the extent to which the EU has been able to remove barriers to trade within it has been one of its greatest achievements.

    But there are still barriers that need to be tackled, in particular when it comes to the digital environment.

    The European Commission has said it wants to address these barriers and complete the digital single market. The UK fully supports them in this goal.

    If we get this right, then consumers will enjoy greater choice, lower prices, more mobility and better public services, while businesses will thrive, innovate, drive growth and create jobs.

    The issue is urgent; if we do not act now to shape the global digital environment, the EU will increasingly get left behind. Instead we need to take advantage of our potential digital market of 500 million people. 79% of UK consumers sometimes shop online, far more than in other member states and with our large e-commerce and creative industries we are well placed to benefit.

    The European Commission’s DSM roadmap published in May with 16 broad headings is light on detail, but very comprehensive. It ranges from consumer rules for cross-border shopping to postal services and VAT and from broadcasting services to building trust in digital data.

    Tomorrow or even today the first set of Commission proposals on DSM will be published. We are expecting a proposal on portability of online content, and a communication setting out the Commission’s future direction of travel.

    We expect the portability proposal to focus on ensuring that consumers will have access to their content when they travel temporarily abroad in the EU on holiday or for business.

    Most people see no reason why they should not be able to take the iPlayer or Netflix with them when they are away.

    I agree with this. In delivering portability, I believe we are demonstrating the benefits the EU can deliver to consumers in the digital world.

    We understand the Commission proposes to do this through providing for improved access to cross-border services; greater certainty around copyright exceptions; and clarifying the rules on online intermediaries.

    Some of these areas will present us with challenges. For example, better cross-border provision of digital services has potentially many benefits in increasing sales of UK content and reducing incentives for piracy.

    But there are also very complex questions attached to this concept. The audio-visual sector in particular has genuine concerns over how changes to licensing rules might affect investment in new content. We are great creators in the UK in television and film with a strong independent sector that needs to flourish and grow. So we are watching this point carefully and engaging with like-minded allies.

    We expect the Commission to touch on other equally difficult conundrums – how to introduce EU-wide rules on data mining; on the freedom to photograph buildings in public places; on accessible formats for disabled people; on copyright’s interaction with education, research, and culture; on the liability rules governing search engines and internet services providers and their responsibility to help prevent copyright infringement.

    In each of these areas, the questions are difficult. And the devil will be in the detail. We want to make sure that copyright does not stand in the way of innovation and new markets; but we also have a responsibility to ensure it continues to reward our creators and creative industries.

    Conclusion

    Unfortunately we will never be able successfully to predict the next challenge or technological revolution that will come our way.

    But we can do our best to ensure that our framework is encouraging growth and innovation, rather than inhibiting them.

    While our IP system is adaptable to the needs of the business community we must be alive to the new technological developments that can turn the world on its head.

    First and foremost we must view the DSM as a real opportunity to build a flexible, modern and robust framework that supports the UK economy, creates jobs and boosts productivity.

    I will leave you by reminding you that producing a system that works must always be a collaborative effort. However good our horizon scanning, governments and the Commission cannot do it alone.

    Whether through the process of formal review, or through engagement and collaboration with industry, we need that support to help maintain a vibrant and responsive IP system that serves us all.

    Thank you.

    Source Article from https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/digital-economy-intellectual-property-and-small-business