Autumn Statement 2023: techlaw elements

November 24, 2023

The Chancellor has issued his Autumn Statement, including the following announcements of interest to tech lawyers.

The government is exploring the use of cutting-edge technologies, including quantum, in the public sector. The National Quantum Computing Centre is supporting government and industry to explore how quantum computing could be applied and the government has launched a Catalyst fund bringing together quantum innovators and government departments to identify and develop near and longer-term applications.

Regulatory reform

The government also aims to make the UK’s regulatory regime more pro-growth and pro-investment without compromising on its quality and effectiveness. In addition to consulting on the economic regulation framework to encourage greater private investment through proposals to increase competition for strategic infrastructure investment and develop a long-term investment blueprint, the government is also consulting on stronger guidance on the regulators’ Growth Duty; extending the Growth Duty to Ofgem, Ofwat and Ofcom; and providing a new strategic steer for the Competition and Markets Authority. This aims to ensure the UK’s regulators must be pro-innovation, agile facilitators of growth in the sectors they regulate. The government also says that it will kickstart a Smart Data Big Bang, giving industry and investor certainty by setting out how new powers in the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill can be used, exploring innovative opportunities across seven sectors: energy, banking, finance, retail, transport, homebuying and telecoms.


The government is also committed to growing the UK’s retail payments sector and is supporting Joe Garner’s independent review into the future of payments. It will implement the review’s core recommendations, including repealing payments authentication rules which it says will permit industry to better prevent fraud and improve the customer payments experience. The FCA will review the rules with a view to adopting an outcomes-based approach and will specifically consider the contactless limits.

The government is also committed to unlocking the full potential of Open Banking-enabled payments and will seek to legislate next year to support this. The government’s intention is for the new regulatory framework to require firms beyond the largest banks to participate in a sustainable and equitable commercial model through which the technology and necessary consumer protections will be developed, and with appropriate regulatory backstops. In line with the Review’s central recommendation, the government will publish a National Payments Vision next year. Building from the review’s findings, this will include consideration of priorities for UK payments and, working with the Payment Systems Regulator and the Bank of England, will consider the role of the New Payments Architecture.


So that SME leaders can acquire the skills and opportunities they need to increase productivity and grow their businesses, the government is expanding the Made Smarter Adoption programme helping more manufacturing SMEs use advanced digital technologies. The government is also setting up a taskforce to rapidly explore how best to support SMEs to adopt digital technology, committing to delivery of the Help to Grow: Management programme beyond 2024-25 and offering additional support to SMEs to access global markets through UK Export Finance.

Digital Technology and AI

The government says that to realise the many potential benefits of AI, the UK needs to work with international partners to ensure the safe development of advanced AI systems. Earlier this month, the UK hosted the AI Safety Summit and the government will be launching an AI Safety Institute, backed by an initial £100 million investment. In parallel, the government is developing its wider regulatory approach, to balance innovation and safe adoption, publishing its response to the AI white paper by the end of the year, and launching a pilot AI Regulatory Sandbox in the spring.

Later this year the government will be launching the Manchester Prize which will award prizes of up to £1 million to researchers working on the safe, responsible application of AI over the next ten years.

It also says that access to compute is key, as it powers the development of AI models. The government will be investing a further £500 million in compute for AI over the next two financial years, following investment in previous years. This aims to allow researchers and SMEs to develop new foundation models and maximise potential in AI, enabling, for example, the discovery of new drugs, This complements the government’s £100 million AI Life Sciences Accelerator Mission, which will use health data and cutting-edge AI to address some of the most pressing health challenges.