Infrastructure Must Be Priority, Say SMEs

Small Business Owners Call For More Road, Rail and Communication Spending


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

Many SMEs regard investment in infrastructure as the number one priority the government should be focusing on, a new survey has indicated.

The Close Brothers Business Barometer found 40 per cent consider such spending to be the most important element of government investment, ahead of areas like health, energy and education. In addition to that, over half of respondents stated that better infrastructure is very important for sustainable economic growth.

Chief executive of invoice finance at Close Brothers David Thompson agreed that infrastructure expenditure is a key part of ensuring Britain's economy keeps growing healthily.

He remarked: "I'm sure that many SMEs were heartened by the recent announcement of a new National Infrastructure Plan, outlining £375 billion of planned public and private sector investment.

"The proposal set out vital long-term investment for energy transport, flood defence, waste, water and communications infrastructure up to 2030 and beyond."

Mr Thompson added that infrastructure spending would help boost growth in the longer term, notably by encouraging an increase in foreign investment. He said better transport would increase efficiencies, while the roll-out of broadband would have particular benefits for those firms that mainly trade online.

The investment heralded by the government included a number of specific projects, contained in the 2013 National Infrastructure Plan, which was last updated on March 31st this year. 

Among the funding announced in the plan was additional support for a range of projects outlined in the previous spending round. This included another £50 million for a new railway station at Gatwick Airport, £30 million for a new bridge over the River Thames, the launch of a £10 million fund to test new broadband solutions as part of plans to roll out more superfast services and allowing local enterprise partnerships to borrow up to £800 million.

The government has also said it is considering changing the planning system to ensure this does not act as a barrier to new infrastructure developments. This will include the establishment of a specialist planning court.

Expert Opinion
For a long period now, the Government has talked a lot regarding how important small businesses are to driving forward improvements in the economy. However, in order to succeed in doing so, it is vital that they are given the right tools and support which allow them to take such strides forward.

"While the need for quality advice from third parties including lawyers is very important, having the right infrastructure in place is equally vital – particularly when it comes to issues as diverse as the movement of goods or quality broadband connections to support online platforms.

"It is important that the concerns of small businesses are listened to so that steps can be taken forward which will allow many of them to develop."
Fergal Dowling, Partner