British businesses hampered by infrastructure that ranks among the worst in Europe

The ability of UK businesses to compete internationally is being seriously compromised by the country’s poor infrastructure, including road, rail and air transport, according to a study published by QBE Business Insurance.

Understanding and protecting your supply chain is an index of European countries’ ability to manage risks to supply chains, and places the UK 12th out of 15 countries for the quality of its infrastructure. Only Italy, Greece and Ireland receiving poorer ratings, and lagging behind countries such as Spain and Portugal.

The survey indicates that the UK’s track record of decades of under investment in infrastructure has given a strong advantage to other less prosperous European countries. The UK scored poorly on the quality of its road network and overcrowded airports.

Richard Pryce, Chief Executive QBE European Operations, said: “A significant challenge for many of our customers is that the UK’s infrastructure lags behind many European peers which is unacceptable for a country of our economic aspirations. If we are to be a nation that continues to build economic growth, it is essential that components and goods can be effectively and agilely moved around the country. Our survey highlights the country’s big disadvantages with our internal infrastructure.

The QBE Supply Chain Index is based on five pillars of influence, which can create risk to supply chains and economic activity – economic, environment, infrastructure, cyber and political. The UK scored particularly poorly on cyber and political risks.

Richard Pryce said: “The UK has a great deal of lost ground to make up to create an environment that supports our customers’ need for a modern, competitive economy. The country urgently needs to improve its outdated motorway system and relieve pressure on the airports. With Brexit fast approaching, it is more important than ever that the country is able to move components and goods in and out of the UK. The survey shows just how far behind the UK is with our northern European neighbours.

The survey highlights that the UK’s current infrastructure is putting the country at a considerable disadvantage to those nations against which we will be competing vigorously. We are not at their level and therefore need to totally reappraise our attitude and approach to economic growth and competitiveness.

In the survey the UK fared poorly in the political pillar because of risks associated with uncertainty due to Brexit, two general elections, two referendums in three years, and the impact of terrorist attacks which cause business interruption and affect business confidence. Another area where the UK performs poorly is vulnerability to cyber attacks in general and particularly attacks on networks.

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