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Be the Business manifesto calls on next government to make productivity a priority

Be the Business, the independent charity which works to boost small business productivity, published five policy recommendations designed to address the UK’s flatlining productivity performance.

London, 21 February 2024: Today, Be the Business, the independent charity which works to boost small business productivity, published five policy recommendations designed to address the UK’s flatlining productivity performance.

The launch of the manifesto, ‘Small Changes for a Big Impact: Solving the Productivity Puzzle’, aims to put productivity as the driver for long-term sustainable growth at the top of the political agenda. Poor productivity has real-world consequences for everyone - the annual wage of an average UK worker is £11,000 a year lower than it would be if pre-2008 productivity levels had been maintained. 1

Be the Business’ policy solutions to boost the UK’s productivity performance aim to shift the government’s focus towards generating demand for business support and maximising the potential of existing resources rather than creating new programmes and networks. The policies also seek better access to the information and data that will improve decision-making for both government and business.

Crucially, if implemented, these policies will ensure that productivity is lifted above the short-term political cycle by adopting a long-term view of what’s needed to create sustainable growth in the UK.

The measures include:

  1. Shift to demand side: generate demand for productivity-boosting business support and embed a culture of continuous improvement among SMEs.

  2. Strengthen existing networks: place SMEs at the heart of policy and empower existing business support networks to more effectively deliver support directly to small business leaders.

  3. Data-led business support system: bring together data already in existence from HMRC and ONS to tailor and target existing business support measures and achieve maximum impact.

  4. AI-adoption superpower: invest in research to ensure that the UK’s global leadership in technology is rapidly and successfully diffused across the SME population.

  5. A long-term approach: create an independent statutory Productivity Commission, led equally by business leaders and economists, to monitor progress and make practical recommendations that drive improvements in the UK’s productivity.

The manifesto was launched at a parliamentary roundtable event in Westminster, where Be the Business discussed its recommendations and findings with leading policymakers and thought leaders from industry.

These policy measures announced today were informed by the charity’s G7 Productive Business Index (PBI) research. Be the Business identified that business leaders in the UK are overconfident about their performance across five areas which drive productivity and as a result they do not take action to improve – thereby creating a confidence-action gap.2

Previous government measures, which aimed to improve the UK’s productivity largely focused on providing businesses with a supply of interventions and opportunities, including improved access to finance, business support schemes and tax incentives. This may not be the most effective way to address the UK’s productivity underperformance, because the confidence-action gap points to the fact that business leaders don’t yet take advantage of this supply. The policy measures announced today instead focus on creating demand for productivity-boosting government support and ensuring that support is informed by SMEs and their leaders.

Anthony Impey MBE, CEO of Be the Business, said:

“To close the confidence-action gap and improve the UK’s productivity, it is crucial to show business leaders why they should care about productivity and help them to embark on a journey of continuous learning and improvement. The next UK government must make support as accessible and impactful as possible. While reviving the UK’s flagging productivity is a major challenge, there is also a great opportunity to create long-term sustainable growth for the UK and make productivity improvement a natural non-negotiable behaviour for all.”

Ahead of the General Election this year, Be the Business will continue to hold conversations with senior politicians and civil servants to share ideas and recommendations to help inform policymakers of the ways to solve the productivity challenge.

To read Be the Business’ manifesto - ‘Small Changes for a Big Impact: Solving the Productivity Puzzle’ - click here.

- NOTES FOR EDITOR –

References

  1. Torsten Bell and Charlie McCurdy, Resolution Foundation, Wages are flatlining (22 Mar 2022), https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2023/03/Wages-are-flatlining.pdf, p5

  2. Be the Business, Be the Business G7 Productive Business Index (July 2023), https://www.bethebusiness.com/our-thinking/be-the-business-g7-sme-productive-business-index/

About Be the Business

Be the Business is an independent charity that works to boost small business productivity, by connecting business leaders to world-class productivity expertise. To date, we have directly added £500m to the productivity of the firms we have worked with.

By combining in-depth research into different aspect of productivity, practical work with small business leaders, and publishing our insights, we have become the UK’s leading authority of small business productivity.

Collectively we’re transforming the UK’s productivity, raising the value of businesses in our communities, safeguarding jobs and improving standards of living.

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