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Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
Graeme Whitfield

Sage and L&G chief execs join calls for Government to boost business investment

Two of the North East’s most prominent business leaders have called on the Government to help businesses invest more, with one saying the UK has become a “low growth, low productivity, low wage economy.”

Steve Hare, CEO of Tyneside technology giant Sage, and Sir Nigel Wilson, the North East-born chief executive of investment group Legal & General, have joined calls from a number of business groups for more action to be taken to prioritise growth.

Organisations including the Institute of Directors, the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses have spoken out in the run-up to next week’s Budget to call for measures that incentivise greater investment in the UK. The calls have come as concerns grow that efforts to boost productivity in regions like the North East are being hampered by low business investment.

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Mr Hare said: “It is a privilege to be a FTSE 100 tech business and we’re proud of our UK roots. Sadly, the country risks falling behind other nations if the Government fails to show it is serious about driving growth.

“The Budget needs to provide financial incentives to encourage more investment in tech, so SMBs can innovate and grow, supported by a strong digital infrastructure that benefits the economy across every part of the UK. We need to steer the country on course to be a competitive high-growth digital economy with a compelling vision, not one that sits in the shadows of its European or global counterparts.”

Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal and General (Newcastle Chronicle)

And speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Nigel Wilson said: “We’d like to invest a lot more in the UK but a combination of regulation and policies has made that very difficult over the last 20 or 30 years.”

Sir Nigel - whose company has invested around £250m into the Newcastle Helix and Riverside Sunderland schemes in recent years - described the UK as a “low growth, low productivity, low wage economy frought by political infighting” and added: “This has to change. We need the Government to step up and put rules in place and policies that allow us to invest in the real economy in the UK.”

A number of signs in recent weeks - including falling inflation and robust retail signs - have pointed to the economy turning around from the perilous position seen for many families and businesses at the end of last year. But recent research has also suggested that around 630,000 small and microbusinesses in the UK are still at risk of going bust in the face of rocketing costs and pressures on consumers, according to new research.

The UK economy is widely believed to have been held back over a long period by low investment by UK companies, which has led the country to have lower productivity than many of its counterparts around the world. Business groups want the Government to offer tax incentives for firms that invest more.

The Treasury has been contacted for comment.


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