The UK has been ranked at 20 out of 21 countries for which data is available in national spending on IT systems – and bottom of all the 34 members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) for transport equipment investment.
The data is from a new report from the TUC, which says it reveals how the country ranks among the worst performers in the developed world for spending on new technology, industrial machinery and transport equipment.
The only area where the UK is ahead of the OECD average is in intellectual property, ranking 13th of 34 countries, says the study.
That has to be a big factor in our sluggish recovery from the global 2008 financial meltdown, it suggests – and means the Chancellor has to boost investment in key infrastructure, in both the public and the private sectors, in his imminent Autumn Statement.
“If the government invests in Britain, we can build an economy strong enough to thrive,” claims the group’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady.
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“We can’t just waltz into Brexit with our fingers crossed; if the government doesn’t invest in Britain, it could go very badly wrong – and working people will pay the price with fewer jobs, lower wages and higher prices.”
Critics, including the TUC but also groups like the IMF, have said that with historically low interest rates, now is the perfect time for the state to borrow so as to boost digital infrastructure, as well as invest in training so workers can operate the latest equipment.
“We need investment in skills, education and fair pay for a world-class workforce,” concludes O’Grady.
“It’s the right thing to do for better jobs and higher wages. And it’s the best way to build an economy strong enough to compete in the global marketplace.”