Thursday, 23 July 2015

We are lagging behind in the global productivity stakes

I don't want to depress you as you prepare to recharge your batteries by lying in the sun for a fortnight, but if you think you’re already flat out, you might want to have a quick read of the Government’s Productivity Plan as the statistics behind it don't make for happy reading.

Who would have thought that when it comes to productivity, the Americas are 31 per cent more productive than ourselves? Closely followed by the Germans at 28 per cent, and the French 27 per cent. Even the Italians are nine per cent better than us. 

The Government’s Productivity Plan effectively lost out in terms of news coverage to the Budget and the prospect of the Grexit, but it’s definitely worth a read as it shows the direction of travel in terms of policy.

The plan highlights a few shocking stats:
  • Connectivity: since 1990 France has built 2,700 miles of motorway, more than the entire length of the UK motorway network. 
  • Condition: there is an estimated backlog of maintenance works on the UK’s local road network of up to £8.6 billion 
  • Capacity: levels of congestion on the road network are high and rising, and by 2040 the equivalent of more than 100 million working days could be lost to traffic congestion unless action is taken. 

The fact that it’s a HM Treasury plan shows the true rationale behind it – and that is spending less and generating greater tax take through growth. 

When it comes to the UK’s productivity, the first issue the Government needs to make a quick decision on is that of airport capacity in the South East. 

However, it seems Howard Davies’ report is set to gather dust until the autumn, with Boris and the West London Conservatives beating their chests over a u-turn from the Prime Minister.

The plan states: “The Commission concluded that there was a need for further airport capacity in the south east of England. The government will now assess the Commission’s analysis and decide by the end of the year whether it agrees with that assessment and, if so, the best route for achieving planning consents and getting a new runway built.”

Who else is getting the smell of long uncut grass?

We must all ask ourselves – are we as productive as we could be or are we simply busy fools? Or as the Government suggests, what hurdles to productivity can we remove? 

No prizes for guessing that the planning process comes in for considerable scrutiny.

If you have a few minutes spare in your productive time view the plan here.

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