As Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Autumn statement was announced yesterday to focus on “preparing and supporting the economy as we begin writing a new chapter in our country’s history”, I wanted to share what I believe are most interesting proposals for businesses – and whether they are the best investments to reflect current needs.
UK’s lagging productivity tackled
At Xerocon London 2016, we raised the issue of UK’s productivity problem and the importance of SMB productivity to the health of the overall economy – Hammond’s statement that the UK currently lags behind the US and Germany by some 30% demonstrates the reality that it takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five. In turn, this means that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts.
The announcement of a £23bn Productivity Fund fund is overdue, but a move in the right direction. Funding transport, digital comms, R&D and housing, it’s vital that the government recognises the issues behind the UK lagging badly behind the US, Germany, France and Italy in efficiency. Combined with the implementation of Sir Charlie Mayfield’s review of business productivity by providing £13m to help businesses improve management skills, this could be the start of an improved and more efficient UK.
The £400m VC fund injection will help companies to remain British owned
The growth of UK new tech companies is vital for the long term – particularly since the result of the referendum was announced. Too many great British technologies are acquired before they fully develop – DeepMind, the AI company founded in Cambridge in 2010 and acquired by Google in 2014 is a great example of this, as is the recently sold Skyscanner.
Now more than ever, we need more companies like DeepMind to emerge and remain British owned. Fund injections for VCs to invest in formation and growth is exactly what is needed to help make this happen, however, it’s something that must be spearheaded by Government too.
5G development – the right investment?
In the age of the cloud, online speeds are now paramount to productivity and economic growth. A trial of 5G mobile communications is a welcome investment for many, but current internet speeds for many areas across the country are still shockingly slow.
For rural small business owners 3G connection leaves a lot to be desired, which is why the £1bn investment to roll-out more full-fibre broadband by 2021 is a welcome proposal. An investment to improve current infrastructure will have a more immediate benefit for all small business owners across the country rather than simply those in built up areas, leading ultimately to the benefit of the UK’s economy.