Public sector contracts
SMEs have a huge amount to offer the public sector in terms of innovation and cost savings, but again and again government contracts are awarded to the "big players" who frequently end up going massively over already unjustifiably large budgets, and delivering sub-standard solutions. I am a keen advocate of encouraging government departments to consider the SME sector when placing contracts, and have great hopes that the G-Cloud programme, for which I have been the technical architecture co-lead, will help access the valuable SME market and curb further IT spend waste.
National Internet infrastructure
Many businesses in the UK rely heavily on the Internet, and as our industrial capacity is rendered economically inviable by the developing world we shall have to rely ever more on our science and technological industries to maintain UK PLC's position as a global leader. For us to compete in the new Internet-enabled world we need a world-leading infrastructure, and at present we are about to get very left behind. Today as few as 70% of British households even have broadband.
In order to roll out the next generation of broadband across the UK an investment in the region £15bn is required. In the day of public infrastructure ownership (which, by the way, I think was a good thing) this would not be a problem, but now we must rely on the private sector to make that investment, and they are unlikely to do so, especially not to the 30% of currently disconnected households. There may be other ways, however, and I am looking into this area as part of my collaborative PhD with Surrey Uni.
The South East's transport infrastructure
There is an extreme shortage of investment in the South East's transport infrastructure. Surrey County Council, for example, recently announced that they could not afford to repair our roads! This is because, since Surrey is perceived as a "wealthy" county, a massive proportion of our council tax gets diverted to central government coffers.
The net result is that the economic powerhouse of the country has serious issues with poor road conditions, inadequate development and an overloaded train network. I used to spend a lot of time in and around Manchester, where the situation is quite the reverse: a truly excellent motorway network, well maintained roads and a good rail infrastructure. It is, quite simply, a gross inequality.