New research reveals that business leaders overwhelmingly believe the state of UK infrastructure is restricting economic growth nationally, locally and within their own organisations.
The survey by leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM revealed that nearly 70 per cent of the 400 UK middle market business leaders questioned believe the UK’s infrastructure* is hindering economic growth nationally; 64 per cent said it is impacting the local economy in which they operate; and 63 per cent said it’s hurting their business.
Kevin Duffy, RSM’s regional managing partner in the North West, said:
‘Business leaders are telling us that their economic growth is being held back, and so the need to strengthen, bolster and expand our infrastructural capacity is now a priority. A long term, holistic vision is needed to transform key aspects of the North West’s infrastructure, such as the creaking rail network and digital blackspots. Investing and delivering on large scale projects, like Northern Powerhouse Rail and the 5G rollout, upgrading ailing minor transport routes and tackling the skills gap will help to better support our economy, job prospects and communities.’
Businesses are also increasingly taking matters into their own hands with nearly 80 per cent saying they will most likely invest in their own infrastructure in the coming years.
Despite the keenness to invest, funding remains a significant challenge with a third (29 per cent) of businesses saying it would be difficult to access the finance needed to realise their ambitions.
However, there is a belief from nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of businesses that there will be meaningful action from Government in the next three years which will result in tangible national infrastructure enhancements.
‘Our survey findings send a clear message to Government that middle market businesses are ready to invest and innovate; and if the Government is committed to the levelling up agenda then real action to deliver on infrastructure commitments is needed to give North West businesses the confidence to invest in key capital expenditure and digital infrastructure which will help shape their future success.’
The survey was the third in The Real Economy series of topical quarterly surveys focusing on the middle market as the powerhouse of the UK economy. It was also used as a means of uncovering the infrastructure challenges faced during the global pandemic. The Real Economy is the first authoritative source of economic data from this crucial area of the UK business market, sharing insight and perspective for the wider economy.