Call for urgent infrastructure investment
British business leaders fear that UK infrastructure is lagging behind the rest of the world and feel less confident about global economic conditions over the next 12 months, according to new research from Lloyds Bank.
The study, which canvassed the views of boardroom-level executives from leading UK companies and global corporates, shows that two thirds of respondents believe that UK national infrastructure is worse than other developed economies while only eight per cent think it is better.
The respondents said that digital infrastructure (61%), the rail network (51%) and energy (41%) were the areas most in need of modernising. Concern about airport infrastructure, the top issue in 2016’s survey, fell from 57% to 28%.
To help combat these issues, businesses said that the Government’s top priority following the EU referendum should be to accelerate infrastructure spending (45%). Over three quarters (78%) believe that a substantial increase in infrastructure spending would significantly improve the likelihood of investment in the UK.
At the same time, the majority of businesses feel less confident about global economic conditions this year and expect them to deteriorate over the next 12 months. Over two fifths (43%) of the leading UK companies and global corporates surveyed expect global economic conditions to worsen in 2017 – an increase from 29% last year.
This worsening sentiment stems from a combination of risks facing UK businesses in the coming 12 months. Over seven in ten respondents (73%) identified geo-political risk as their biggest concern, following political shifts in the UK and the US; upcoming European elections; and global escalating tensions in Russia and Asia.
However, more than three quarters of businesses (78%) said that targeting growth remains businesses’ top focus to boost performance, closely followed by managing risk (60%) and targeting cost efficiencies (60%).