GROWTH Street is calling for more investment in research and development, as it urges the government to “get a handle on Brexit negotiations” to support the UK economy.
Greg Carter (pictured), chief executive of the peer-to-peer lender, said a “passable plan of action” was needed.
“As we move towards the end of 2018, market conditions could present exciting opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises with bold ambitions and plans for growth,” he said.
“By and large, the UK’s economy is performing well in response to the political upheavals we’ve seen over the last couple of years.
“However, this will not continue if the government does not get a handle on the Brexit negotiations and produces a passable plan of action setting out what it expects our economy, as well as the nature of our relationship with the EU, to look like post-Brexit.
“A priority for Britain’s businesses should be to increase investment in research and development.”
It comes as the third-quarter economic survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found the percentage of services and manufacturing firms expecting to recruit has fallen.
Just 47 per cent of services firms plan to hire staff, down from 60 per cent in the second quarter and the lowest level for 25 years.
The percentage of manufacturing firms attempting to recruit fell from 77 per cent to 67 per cent.
An increasing number of manufacturing firms also plan to raise prices over the next quarter, from 31 per cent to 38 per cent.
“These figures reinforce what we are hearing from businesses up and down the country – the uncertainty over Brexit, and the lack of bold moves to boost business at home, are starting to bite,” Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said.
“It should be a matter of grave concern to government that sales and orders both at home and abroad are stagnating.
“Weaker sterling is no longer proving a boon to many of our exporters, while consumer spending is failing to boost the domestic market.
“We have a vibrant and innovative business community that wants to invest and grow, but we are stuck in limbo while Brexit negotiations rumble on.
“The upcoming Budget must deliver radical, decisive action to boost growth and productivity at precisely the moment that the economy needs it most. There has never been a more important time for the government to bolster business investment, competitiveness and productivity, in the face of significant Brexit headwinds.”