The CBI is urging the Government to act now and use this Spending Round to lay the groundwork for the UK’s long-term future.
The Covid crisis makes it even more important that the Government takes key decisions and implements its strategy on the ground, ensuring public investment catalyses wider business investment and confidence. Delay is not an option.
IE Comment: Insurtech is already a big part of the UK financial services sector and the government could do more to help start-up companies find seed finance, stage online shows and product demos, fund trips overseas and offer credit guarantees. Sometimes small companies fail a diligence check during a bid process because they’re so new they have little checkable credit history. Resolving problems like that can make a real difference when small companies pitch for overseas contracts.
CBI recommendations (see attached PDF for full list) include a range of measures designed to invest in people, accelerate innovation and build infrastructure to deliver a net-zero economy and reinvigorate the levelling-up agenda. Build, build, build now needs to be delivered on the ground.
Recommendations fall into three key areas, and include:
Establish the UK as an innovation superpower delivering investment for growth
- Establish regional Catapult Quarters anchored around institutions like Catapult Centres to incentivise collaborative research and innovation around the UK.
- Make net-zero a ‘moon-shoot’ mission backed by a well-funded UK ARPA which can invest in new and emerging low-carbon technologies where the UK will lead the world.
- Set out a path illustrating how the Government will deliver on the ambition of the R&D roadmap to increase public investment in R&D to £22billion by 2024 to 2025.
- Establish a new council within UKRI, Accelerate UK, to bring strategy, scale and visibility to Government support for innovation adoption.
- Provide financial incentives to encourage businesses to innovate and grow – including productivity vouchers to be spent by SMEs on digital technologies.
Deliver on build, build, build to connect regions and accelerate our low carbon transition
- Publish the much-delayed National Infrastructure Strategy and the Energy White Paper to provide certainty to business.
- Create a world-class infrastructure bank to support recovery and deliver the transition to net-zero.
- Simplify and speed up local transport funding decisions by replacing length bidding processes with formula-based allocations.
- Reform the Green Book to give greater weight to the benefits of UK-wide infrastructure investment.
- Increase parliamentary scrutiny of regulatory performance to remove barriers to business investment and growth.
Invest in human capital to create a workforce ready for the future
- Transform the Apprenticeship Levy into a Skills and Training Levy that will support business to invest more in their people.
- Introduce a single lifelong learning loan allowance for individuals to help individuals fund training throughout their career.
- Upskill and retrain by giving all adults in England free access to their first level 2 and 3 qualification.
- Reinvent job centres as ‘skills centres’ to deliver digital skills, advice and support.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said:
“The pandemic has created huge economic challenges, and the crisis is far from over, yet the Government ought not to lose sight of the UK’s long-term priorities and the urgent need to deliver them on the ground.
“If the Government takes decisions and sets out its strategy then business can invest in the critical infrastructure, training, and innovation needed to support jobs and living standards across the UK.
“The Spending Round provides an opportunity to invest in a long-term vision for the economy, which means moving forward with levelling-up ambitions and working towards a net-zero economy.
“The next six months is a chance to invest in our future. Business will look to Government to deliver a platform of investment and opportunity which enables a swift recovery and a brighter future as Britain builds back better.”