British business leaders urge government to improve the UK's lagging infrastructure

 
Alys Key
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General Election - Economy
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Two thirds of British business leaders think that the UK’s infrastructure is worse than other developed economies, according to a Lloyds Bank survey released today.

Only 8 per cent of the 77 boardroom-level executives who responded thought that the national infrastructure of the UK was better than that of other countries.

The results of the annual survey showed appetite for government intervention, with 78 per cent believing that increased infrastructure spending would improve the UK’s prospects of investment from overseas.

Clare Francis, managing director of global corporates at Lloyds commented: “The government’s draft industrial strategy is a good start but we need to ensure that the country invests in its infrastructure to drive economic growth over the long-term.”

Digital infrastructure topped the list of areas in need of modernisation, with 61 per cent citing it as a major concern. The rail network (51 per cent) and energy (41 per cent) were also listed as priorities.

But last year’s top issue, airport infrastructure, is now a lesser concern for leaders following the Heathrow expansion decision last October. While 57 per cent thought the sector was most in need of modernising in 2016’s survey, only 28 per cent said the same this year.

Geo-political risk was the most commonly cited threat for the coming year, with 73 per cent identifying it as their biggest concern. Faced with the imminent prospect of exiting the European Union, 55 per cent wanted to maintain access to a skilled overseas workforce and 42 per cent wanted to develop trade outside of the EU. A further 43 per cent said that the government should prioritise reducing corporation tax to attract overseas investors.

Despite these concerns, the general outlook for 2017 is more positive than 2016, with 31 per cent believing the economic climate will improve in the next 12 months, up from 18 per cent in last year’s survey.

The survey was conducted ahead of the annual Lloyds business leaders summit, which takes place in London today. The event brings together 200 leaders of international and UK corporates, along with policymakers, regulators and academics.

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