There was an interesting article in City AM newspaper on Thursday 31 May.  The headline was “UK Still Struggling to Compete” and the article explained the UK’s position in relation to other industrialised economies according to a World Competitiveness Yearbook published by the IMD Business School in Switzerland.   Of the 59 countries measured, the UK ranked 57th for entrepreneurship, 49th in language schools and 38th for effective personal Income Tax rates. 

The report pointed to high inflation, rising unemployment and the lack of entrepreneurial environment but believed that cuts to Corporation Tax and gradual steps to reduce the budget deficit were moving the country forward.

Clearly, however, the reasons for the country’s poor performance are more systemic and whilst I am not expert enough to understand the causes, I can certainly see some of the symptoms, for example:-

An underperforming education system (a report in March announced that pupils in Northern Ireland achieve better GCSE results than those in theUK). You only have to look around at the standard of written and spoken English to wonder what our education system is really doing, and as for numeracy and ability to learn and speak other languages, no comment! 

Innate Jealousy.  The recent fashion (induced by the banking crisis) to ‘knock’ the ‘rich’ instead of aspiring to emulate them, helps to ingrain a distinctly negative attitude and a poor work ethic.  This is nothing new but has been heightened by the poor economic conditions.

A Red-Tape Society. Try to open a bank account!  Maybe speak to someone at the Inland Revenue!  Open a new business!  What you will be faced with is:-

  • no one you speak to able to make a decision or show any initiative;
  • unnecessary form-filling;
  • a tick-box approach     

The country needs to address some long-term deeply ingrained issues and until it does that, don’t expect much improvement!!