In a Budget speech that pledged £1bn more for schools, Chancellor Gordon Brown's enthusiasm for training and education touched on IT, but delivered few details.
"In a new economy, people constantly need to improve their skills," said the Chancellor. "Employees, employers and government have a role to play. We're prepared to consider how best to help employers to meet their responsibilities, including a new tax credit."
Tim Conway, director of industry affairs for the Computer Services and Software Association, welcomed the move. "We're very pleased the government is considering a tax credit for training," he said.
Apart from the failure to reform unapproved share option schemes, he gave the speech eight out of 10. "This is a good Budget," he concluded.
The Chancellor also said that the employment secretary will next week announce new plans to train the unemployed for industries that experience skills shortages, including IT and financial services.
But despite these measures, the speech contained no back-tracking on IR35, the controversial changes to contractors' taxes made in the 1999 Budget.
The Professional Contractors' Group (PCG), which campaigns against the measure, claims that contractors are leaving the UK as a result of the change, which was referred to by opposition leader William Hague in his response to the Budget.
"This government has demonstrated clearly that it is no friend of small businesses or high technology," Hague said.
Gareth Williams, chairman of the PCG, said: "Next week, we will press ahead with our [High Court] judicial review to show that not only is IR35 wrong for small businesses and the economy, but it is also illegal under European law."
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