House of Commons Library

Digital economy: statistics and policy

Published Thursday, June 2, 2016

This paper is about statistics and policy related to the Digital Economy, which includes computer programming, telecommunications, manufacturing, publishing and data processing.

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The ‘digital economy’ is a widely used phrase. The UK government defines it to include the following sectors:

  • Manufacture of computer and digital equipment
  • Wholesale of computer and digital equipment
  • Publishing activities
  • Software publishing
  • Media production (including TV, film, music)
  • Telecommunication activities
  • Computer programming activities
  • Data processing
  • Repair of computers and digital equipment


Statistical summary:

  • The digital economy employed 1.3 million people in 2014, 5% of all employees in Great Britain.
  • There were 204,000 digital economy businesses, 9% of the UK total in 2015.
  • The economic contribution of the digital economy in terms of Gross Value Added was £118 billion, 7% of the UK total in 2014.


Policy summary

Innovate UK’s Digital Economy Strategy (2015-18) identifies a number of challenges in the digital economy including skill shortages, the cost of protecting intellectual property, funding support and investment in digital infrastructure.

The Government indicated in the Queen’s Speech on 18 May 2016 that it intends to bring forward a Digital Economy Bill that will “make the UK a world leader in digital provision”. The Bill is expected to contain provision for a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), reform of the Electronic Communications Code and powers for Ofcom to make switching broadband providers easier for consumers.





Commons Briefing papers CBP-7610

Authors: Chris Rhodes; Daniel Rathbone

Topics: Economic policy, Information technology

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