Productivity remains the watchword for the UK economy as it seeks to shrug off its chilly start to the year. By now, the story of post-referendum growth is well-known: the fall in the pound following Brexit pushed up inflation, eating into households pay and spending. Furthermore, uncertainty over our future relationship with the EU looms large over business’ investment plans.
That story has evolved much as the CBI expected. Our latest forecast is broadly unchanged – we expect the UK economy to grow by 1.4 per cent in 2018 and 1.3 per cent in 2019. By contrast, the global economy is growing at the fastest pace in seven years. Yet the CBI argues the UK economy can shift up a gear if government and firms focus on productivity improvements at home and take full advantage of opportunities abroad.
Against an uncertain backdrop, companies are playing a vital role highlighting issues that matter most to the UK’s future prosperity. This includes working to ensure the UK’s departure from the European Union protects jobs, investment and living standards. Domestically, maintaining momentum around deficit reduction, shaping the fast-moving debate on devolution and investing in the drivers of productivity all remain essential.
To that end, we are seeing an increasing focus on investing in automation, artificial intelligence and training existing employees, which is also the focus of the Rural PLC 2017 annual report. Since last year, rural economies have continued to diversify, and now encompass manufacturing, business services, distribution, education and food services. Rural PLC (Kent) provides a vital role in continuing to promote the dynamism of the sector. The CBI is wishes it nonstop success.
Director-General of the CBI