UK infrastructure is not meeting the needs of business, research says

More than a third of UK businesses believe road and rail networks are not up to speed, while 68% of firms see the road network as less reliable than it was in 2013, according to new research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The findings also found that 39% of firms don’t believe the UK’s rail network meets their needs in accessing new and existing customers, suppliers and employers, compared to 34% that do. The results were based on a survey of over 1,100 businesses across the UK. Of those surveyed, 94% were SMEs, 30% operated in the manufacturing sector, and 70% operated in the services sector.

Jane Gratton, head of business environment at the BCC, said: “Businesses rely on the road and rail networks to connect with customers, suppliers and staff. It’s concerning that many businesses believe reliability has worsened in recent years, particularly on the road network. Capacity constraints, congestion and delays in the development of new routes have left businesses frustrated. Transport delays can cost businesses time, money and potential clients. For the UK to succeed post-Brexit, we need to fix the fundamentals here at home. Investing in physical and digital infrastructure is vital to the prosperity and competitiveness of the UK in the future.”

Poor broadband and mobile coverage is highlighted as an issue by the BCC and something that continues to impede many operations up and down the country. The business group recently launched its ‘No More Not Spots’ campaign in a bid to encourage people to register their mobile not spots and help identify gaps in coverage.

The head of the BCC has also come out to say the government had become “distracted” by Brexit and the impending exit had only added to the country’s failure to stimulate economic growth.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “Political uncertainty aside, the biggest brake on higher UK growth is a lack of concerted action to ‘fix the fundamentals’ here at home, with government attention distracted by Brexit. The power to kick-start the UK economy and raise the trend rate of growth above the current sluggish levels lies in Westminster, not in Brussels and businesses will respond to action by delivering investment, higher productivity, and the increased wages we all want to see.”

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