CBI: Invest in skills, innovation and infrastructure now to rebuild UK economy

CBI: Invest in skills, innovation and infrastructure now to rebuild UK economy

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is urging the UK Government to act now and use this Spending Round to lay the groundwork for the UK’s long-term future.

The business group said 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. It has urged that delay is not an option.

CBI has said that the key priorities for the upcoming Spending Round include: establishing the UK as a global innovation superpower, stimulating nationwide investment and upskilling generations of workers.

The group’s recommendations 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

CBI has also urged that the UK Government publish the much-delayed National Infrastructure Strategy and the Energy White Paper to provide certainty to business.

It has called for the creation of a world-class infrastructure bank to support recovery and deliver the transition to net-zero, simplified and sped up local transport funding decisions and a reformed Green Book to give greater weight to the benefits of UK-wide infrastructure investment.

The group has also urged the UK GOvernment to increase parliamentary scrutiny of regulatory performance to remove barriers to business investment and growth and investment in human capital to create a workforce ready for the future.

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.”

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