Digital investment could add £232 billion to UK economy by 2040

Sabina Weston

16 Feb, 2021

Investing in digital technology could increase the UK’s GDP by almost 7%, delivering a £232 billion boost to the economy by 2040.

That’s according to new research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and Virgin Media Business

The study examined how focusing on digital ways of working, which has been magnified by lockdown restrictions, could help the UK recover from the economic effects of the pandemic. The report claims that investing in digital technology could boost the economy by £74 billion in the next four years, and by £127 billion by the end of this decade.

By 2040, if these investments are sustained, digital technology is expected to add £232 billion to the national economy – equivalent to 6.9% of the UK’s GDP.

Digital processes in the public sector will create efficiency gains and cost-savings of £75 billion, according to the report, while investments in digitising health and social care, as well as the justice, central, and local government sectors could add £33 billion and £32 billion to the UK economy, respectively.

Cebr also found that digital investment in private sectors such as retail, professional services, and construction, could be worth an additional £40 billion by 2040, with other parts of the economy also predicted to experience similar gains.

Cebr director of Economic Analysis, Cristian Niculescu-Marcu, said that the economic impacts of the pandemic alone “fall far short of capturing the scale of the pandemic’s toll on people’s lives and wellbeing”. 

“Within this research we have examined the potential economic impact of a wave of digital transformation, driven by the rollout of new ways of working and connecting,” he said, adding that “this could create an economic high road over the coming decades, helping the UK economy to grow while also having the flexibility to deal with future challenges”.

Commenting on the Virgin Media Business managing director Peter Kelly said that “the UK has a £232 billion opportunity ahead of it which we must now grasp with both hands”. 

“By continuing to invest in new digital ways of working, we can seize this moment and help UK businesses to bounce back better. Moves to accelerate digital adoption are driving extraordinary outcomes across private and public sector organisations, helping them to revolutionise how they work, deliver for customers, and provide vital services for our communities,” he added.

The release of Virgin Media’s report comes days after the company announced that it is planning to create more than 400 new graduate, intern, and apprenticeship roles over the course of 2021.