Make AI training for new skills tax deductible, say small firms

Press Releases 1 Nov 2023

Small firms see the value of upskilling in AI but are being held back by a lack of expertise, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed to coincide with the launch of a national AI summit today.

The research shows that while 20 per cent of firms say they use AI, 29 per cent steer clear of it because they feel ill-equipped to do so.

However, 27 per cent of those who currently use AI plan to invest in further training for their staff, while 43 per cent will undertake a course themselves to improve their knowledge of it over the next two years. The figure drops to nine per cent for those who do not use it.

To kickstart a new era of skills development in AI, FSB is calling on the Government to make training for new skills tax-deductible for the self-employed as part of its Autumn Statement plan.

This would allow more people to master critical software applications without a hefty financial burden, such as the games designer looking to learn new skills.

FSB National Chair Martin McTague said:

“AI has the ability to streamline administrative processes and bring a host of business benefits. It can also enhance customer services, predict future trends, and spot supply chain risks. This can save entrepreneurs precious time that they can invest elsewhere.

“Indeed, our research shows small firms are excited about its potential. However, as AI technologies advance at a rapid clip, some remain hesitant to join the digital wave because they are limited by a lack of relevant skills.

“The Government has a big role to play in bridging this gap by spotlighting AI in the upcoming Autumn Statement. Unfortunately, the tax framework in place does little to spur the reskilling and upskilling essential for technological adoption. This puts the breaks on advancement and quells the desire for continual learning.

“Allowing tax-deductions for the self-employed in a wider array of training – such in AI – can help people adapt. With 4.1million self-employed people in the UK, it’s time we remove this counterproductive barrier to lifelong learning.”

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Anna Slater

Anna Slater

Deputy Head of Media and Communications