Infrastructure proves top priority for UK’s directors

Lauren Fedor
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Businesses want the government to spend on roads, rail and other infrastructure projects
Business leaders say infrastructure should be the new government’s number-one priority, according to a survey out today.

According to a poll conducted after the General Election, 47 per cent of Institute of Directors (IoD) members ranked infrastructure as the top priority for the government. The second most popular response was education, mentioned by 40 per cent of respondents, and health, picked by 36 per cent of those surveyed.

“Britain needs broadband cables, runways, railways and power, and we are looking to the government to deliver them,” IoD director general Simon Walker said.

“Building a modern infrastructure network will help businesses move goods, people, products and services around the world, giving small and medium-sized companies the best chance to succeed, scale up and compete on the global stage.”

An overwhelming majority of business leaders surveyed said they supported the government’s fiscal plans, with 85 per cent of respondents saying they backed the Conservatives’ stated goal of running a budget surplus by the end of the parliament.

“Returning the budget to surplus must be the overriding goal in this parliament, but businesses want the emphasis to be on finding further reductions in spending, not significantly raising taxes,” Walker added.

More than half of the IoD’s members said they opposed increases in national insurance contributions, the basic rate of income tax and VAT, three tax categories which the Tories have vowed not to touch.

A majority of IoD members also said they were against the government raising business rates.

The survey also polled IoD members on tax avoidance, with nearly nine out of 10 respondents saying they backed the government’s plans to suppress tax avoidance.

Yet respondents were sceptical that the government could deliver on its promise: just 15 per cent said they expected the Treasury to meet its target of bringing in £5bn from the tax avoidance clampdown.

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