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Government's industrial strategy expected to have no impact on UK business

Thursday 22 December 2016, Good intentions for an Industrial Strategy by Government which aims to deliver a stronger economy and manage the transition of exiting the EU means little for UK plc who want to see actions, not just ideas. In a survey of UK businesses, two thirds are not aware of the government priority for an industrial strategy while over half feel that it will have little impact on their business.

Key findings:

  •  68% of UK businesses are not aware of the government’s priority for an industrial strategy
  •  Over half feel that the government’s industrial strategy will have ‘no impact’ on their business (55%)
  •  39% of businesses want to see investment in broadband prioritised in an industrial strategy while improvements to rail (29%) and road (25%) were also seen as priorities
  •  Broadband as a priority was cited more by businesses based within the South West & Midlands (82%) or Northern Ireland (63%) compared to all other areas
  •  Businesses in the North (57%) and East/ South East (49%) wanted investment in rail most while London based businesses wanted improvement in roads (47%)
  •  Businesses also highlighted Brexit negotiations, support for exporters and regional devolution among top priorities for government to help business

Stephen Ibbotson, ICAEW Director of Business said:

“There has never been a more crucial time for the UK economy, yet unsurprisingly, two-thirds of businesses are unaware of plans for an industrial strategy and the majority of businesses are failing to see how the government’s strategy will benefit their business. There has been very little detail to date and Government needs to recognise that actions will speak louder than words for businesses who crave certainty.

“We need to get the UK economy moving, and businesses, according to our research, want to see the Government prioritise putting more money in consumers’ pockets to help their businesses succeed in 2017. UK plc also wants interest rates to remain low. There was little optimism delivered in the Autumn Statement and businesses will be hit in 2017 as consumers lose purchasing power due to price increases.  It doesn’t have to be all ‘doom and gloom’ though. The Government has opportunities to create a business environment filled with certainty; connecting the UK’s pockets of strengths and specialisms with an emphasis on infrastructure investment – it just needs to start acting on them.”

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