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Productivity decrease should act as a wake-up call for UK business

Following the publication of new figures showing a national productivity decrease, Be the Business has stated that with a more competitive business environment post-Brexit, firms must make improving performance a bigger priority.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published statistics showing that UK productivity levels decreased in the first quarter of 2018, with overall productivity in the UK falling by 0.5 per cent between January and March. The new figures are a significant reduction on the 0.7 per cent increase in the previous quarter.

The productivity decrease in the first quarter was the result of an increase in gross value added accompanied by a 0.6 per cent increase in total hours worked.

A recent YouGov poll of 1,000 SME business owners and managers for Be the Business found that four in five (79 per cent) believed their business was as productive or more productive than their peers. The same research found that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of businesses surveyed have never evaluated business practices to identify areas of improvement.

Tony Danker, chief executive of Be the Business, commented: “This decrease in productivity should be a wake-up call for all of us. The strong productivity figures at the end of 2017 were more the result of a temporary dip in hours worked, and less about real increases in output. Conversely, the fall reported this quarter is a consequence of employment growth and negligible uplift in output.

“An economy that’s not growing output in line with employment is simply not competitive enough. To compete with Germany and France, businesses need to make growing output their primary focus in the coming years.”

Notes to editors

Be the Business chief executive Tony Danker is available for interview. Please call communications manager James Gribben on 07900 885 721 to arrange.

Be the Business is a new business-led organisation created to close the UK’s productivity gap. Chaired by Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Be the Business is spearheading a campaign to help companies across the UK improve their performance.

YouGov surveyed 1,067 GB business owners and managers for Be the Business between 5 and 13 March 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.

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