Matt Warman – 2019 Statement on Hacker House

Below is the text of the statement made by Matt Warman, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 25 September 2019.

I thank the hon. Lady for raising this question today. I am answering it because it is part of my portfolio.

As hon. Members may know, the Department runs a programme known as the cyber-security immediate impact fund. It is one of a range of programmes designed to increase the number and diversity of people who pursue careers in the cyber-security profession. Through the fund, we want to support new, creative and innovative projects that are delivered by a range of organisations, including start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.

We have supported a variety of initiatives, awarding grants of between £20,000 and £500,000 since March 2018. Hacker House is one of the businesses that was awarded a £100,000 grant in February 2019 as part of our second funding round. To date, it has been paid around £47,000 for work completed. The grant was awarded by officials from DCMS, the Department for Education, techUK and, indeed, people from the National Cyber Security Centre. If the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran) wishes to impugn the motives of those officials, I invite her to think carefully before she does so.

To date, we have awarded 11 companies grants to deliver 12 initiatives. More than 400 people have benefited from support through the fund. Our objective is that even more people will benefit as the businesses with which we partner further invest in a sector that I know the hon. Lady agrees is vital to the future of our security and our economy. That is part of our mission as a Department to identify untapped talent and help a broader range of individuals who have the capabilities and aptitude to develop their careers in cyber-security. I assure the House that all grants are awarded through an open, transparent and competitive process. Each grant is judged on specific assessment criteria and is approved by the panel I referred to earlier, with cross-departmental and industry representation. We are, of course, aware of the claims raised recently by The Sunday Times, and the Department is reviewing the decision that was taken, but we monitor all initiatives that have been awarded grant funding and we treat any allegations of impropriety with the utmost seriousness. As soon as I have any further information to share on this matter, I will, of course, update the House at the earliest possible opportunity.