Firstly, the Chancellor needs to create powerful incentives for the big IT backbone builders as well as broadband suppliers to make the UK’s IT connectivity world-class. A report out today shows that the UK ranks number one in online shopping out of all the G20 nations, but in some areas of Britain, we’re almost in the digital Third World. Just look at this chart comparing average domestic download speeds around the world.
A few of the top-ranking countries will benefit from low contention ratios, but you don’t have to go far down to find comparable nations like the Netherlands and Sweden, where they’ve taken a more strategic view of the importance of connectivity as part of national comparative advantage. We’re still 10 years behind Taiwan, and catching up isn’t good enough.
Today, communications hardware and software are so good that connectivity is the weak link. We should be aiming for at least 100Mbps to be competitive with countries like Sweden, making it easier to set up an international business here.
Second: Let's introduce compulsory work experience in local businesses every summer for MPs.
More and more politicians have only ever worked in the world of politics, but it’s businesses, not politicians, that are going to turn this economy around. So you can’t be an effective politician if you don’t understand how business works.
I’d have a lot more respect for them if they understood how difficult they can make the lives of business owners with decisions based on incomplete knowledge of the implications.
It would be very useful for them to sit in our board meetings and see the real-world problems we face, not least how we’re over-burdened with legislation. The number of policies we have to deal with is too large. The only people who benefit are the armies of consultants we have to call in to deal with them. It’s created a whole industry which doesn’t produce anything.
Andrew Burgess is MD of JMC IT, a supplier of bespoke IT support and services to businesses of all sizes in the North of England.