Government must prioritise infrastructure, say SMEs

One in three businesses want the new government to prioritise investment in infrastructure, according to a survey of British businesses by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Asked before the election what business issues – aside from managing the impact of Brexit – should be at the top of the government’s list of priorities, a third of businesses (32%) said investment in transport and infrastructure.

As well as being the single biggest concern for almost a third of businesses, nearly twice that number (62%) put it in their top three of priorities for the new government. After infrastructure, a fifth of firms (19%) wanted red tape to be cut as their second priority, and one in seven (14%) wanted more incentives created to attract foreign investment.

The answers mark a significant shift in focus compared with six months earlier, when Lloyds Bank asked a similar sample of businesses what their top priorities were. On that occasion, a reduction in corporation tax was the most popular response, favoured by one in five firms (20%), followed by a reduction in red tape (18%). Targeted investment in transport and infrastructure was chosen by just one in nine firms (11%).

Gareth Oakley, Managing Director SME Banking, Lloyds Banking Group said: “We know that poor infrastructure affects firms in a huge variety of ways, from limiting their ability to recruit the best people to increasing their operational costs. That’s why it’s at the top of their wish-list for the new government.

“Having effective infrastructure to meet the current and future needs is essential in driving long term economic growth, both locally and nationally. We are committed to supporting big infrastructure projects through the local supply chain as part of our helping Britain Prosper Plan and the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan.”

Other issues that businesses want the government to focus on include improved broadband (10%), more support in trading overseas (10%), and improved incentives for training and skills (eight%).

The Business in Britain report from Lloyds Bank – from which these findings are taken – gathers the views of more than 1,500 UK companies, predominantly small to medium sized businesses.

What should the new Government’s priorities be? – Top priority Response from sample of 1,552 SME businesses
Investment in transport and infrastructure 32%
Reduction in red tape 19%
More incentives to attract foreign investment 14%
Improved broadband 10%
More support in trading overseas 10%
Improved incentives for training and skills 8%
More support for tackling fraud 4%
Other 3%