Clearview North September 2014 - Issue 154 - Page 96

businessNEWS UK economy back at pre-crisis level The UK economy has returned to pre-crisis levels by expanding 0.8% in Q2 of 2014. On an annual basis gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 3.1%. The figures show the economy is now worth 0.2% more than it was at its peak in 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. ‘now worth 0.2% more than it was at its peak in 2008’ The service sector is the only part of the economy that has passed its previous 2008 peak, although that accounts for almost 80% of UK output. Other key sectors, however, including construction, industrial production and manufacturing, have yet to outstrip levels reached in 2008. The UK economy is forecast to be the fastest growing among the G7 developed nations, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which predicted the UK would expand by 3.2% this year, up from a previous forecast of 2.8%. George Osborne said we had reached a major milestone in our long-term economic plan. But shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, said: “With GDP per head not ‘productivity from those in work remains weak, along with the face the population as a whole has grown’ set to recover for three more years and [with] most people still seeing their living standards squeezed this is no time for complacent claims that the economy is fixed.” Output per head is not expected to reach its pre-crisis level until 2017, partly because productivity from those in work remains weak, along with the fact the population as a whole has grown. UK’s broadband not up to speed, says FSB The government should adopt much more ambitious targets for rolling out high speed broadband for businesses across the UK, says the Federation of Small Busi ness (FSB) in a report published on 14 July. With an estimated 45,000 firms still on dial up, and many more struggling with speeds lower than 2 Megabits per second (Mbps), the FSB says it is clear that - while the residential market may be seeing the benefits of high speed broadband - this is often not the case for the business community. It calls for the UK’s forthcoming digital infrastructure strategy to recognise this issue and put small businesses at the front and centre of future rollout plans, so that they can enjoy the benefits too. 96 SEP 2014 Almost every (94%) small firm views a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business. The current Government targets of 24Mbps for 95 per cent of the population and 2Mbps for the remaining five per cent will not meet the future demands of UK businesses. For example, even in areas where households have high speed broadband, some businesses still struggle to send digital invoices, upload large files or even communicate with clients via the internet. The FSB’s new report, ‘The 4th Utility: Delivering universal broadband connectivity for small businesses across the UK’, highlights the scale of the problem and sets out what small businesses want to see change. Commenting, John Allan, FSB National Chairman, said: “The fact that we have around 45,000 businesses still on dial up is unacceptable and many more throughout the country, even in London, are receiving poor service. Evidence from our members shows this clearly is a problem affecting all corners of the UK, rural areas and cities alike. We want to see the UK Government show ambition with its broadband targets and put business needs at their centre. Leaving five per cent of the population with a 2Mbps connection in 2017 is not good enough.” ‘Almost every (94%) small firm views a reliable internet connection as critical to the success of their business’ To read more, visit