British business leaders throw weight behind plan to raise living standards

BAE

Business leaders across Britain have joined forces with the Bank of England and the Government to relaunch an initiative designed to raise living standards and give the UK economy a £130bn boost.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, the chairman of John Lewis, said there was an opportunity to help businesses do more with less by providing them with a platform to connect, share ideas, and benchmark their performance against others.

This one-stop shop for companies large and small will also provide training and services supported by government grants to raise productivity and boost growth.

Phil Smith, the chairman of technology giant Cisco Systems, said Innovate UK, the quango responsible for funding innovation projects, was working with the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, to create a new tool that will estimate the increase that could be achieved to a company’s bottom line if it changes aspects of its business model.

Sir Charlie, who is is helping to spearhead the “be the business” campaign through the Productivity Leaders Group, said it was time to take action.

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Productivity is still below its 2007 levels. Source: ONS

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“There’s too much talk about productivity being a puzzle. It needs to be talked about as being an opportunity and that really, really matters,” he said.

The UK has suffered a decade of lost productivity growth.

Official figures show labour productivity, as measured by output per hour, fell by 0.5pc in the first quarter of 2017.

The country’s productivity also lags behind other G7 nations such as Germany and the US.

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Contribution to productivity growth from 2008 to 2017. Source: ONS

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Contribution to productivity growth from 2008 to 2017Source: ONSCumulative contribution in percentage pointsNon-financial servicesManufacturingConstructionFinancial servicesNon-manufacturing productionAllocationTotal-2-101234Highcharts.comTotal● Cumulative contribution in percentage points: 0.6

Sir Charlie urged businesses to embrace technology. “To be competitive there is no option but to embrace its full capability,” he said.

On the day of Matthew Taylor’s employment review for the Prime Minister, Sir Charlie said harnessing the benefits of technology was “a necessity to … generate higher productivity and better quality jobs”.

Leading figures backing the initiative include Sir Roger Carr, the chairman of BAE Systems, and Ian Davis, the chairman of Rolls-Royce.

Sir Roger said companies had to take more responsibility for training their staff to equip them with skills for the future.

Juergen Maier, the chief executive of Siemens, who is also backing the initiative, urged policymakers to be more positive about the role of business in the economy.

He said: “[In the UK] we actually have a negative conversation about business and wealth creators generally. To me, this initiative is about a nation getting its mojo back and send out a message that we are going to be the champions of business that drive productivity and invest in technology.

“If you get this right, others will start to invest more in skills.”

[Source”timesofindia”]