Rishi Sunak calls for “bold, persistent” innovation to turn around Britain’s economic woes

Rishi Sunak has called for a relentless focus on catalyzing innovation across the economy in a bid to tackle the stagflation that has gripped the UK, as he touted the importance of both public and private sector investment in skills, science and research this morning as he addressed business leaders.

As the UK enters a recession that some experts fear could last two years and the economy experiences some of the worst growth in the G7 since the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister today addressed the CBI’s annual conference in Birmingham, in in which he trumpeted the importance of innovation as an engine of growth for the UK.

Citing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s historic call for “bold, persistent experimentation,” Sunak said he wants to “lead a country where this kind of thinking and culture of innovation permeates every aspect of what we do, where it’s politics at the heart of our economy.”

Sunak described innovation as the “single driver of growth” but admitted that “the pace of innovation has slowed significantly since the financial crisis”, which he said was at the root of the UK’s sharp performance gap with other G7 countries.

“Despite the challenges we face, I am optimistic about the future because the golden thread of our national history has always been innovation – the idea that what is yet to be discovered is probably even greater than anything that has been it was before,” said Sunak. “I want the UK to be a place of learning, discovery and imagination, where potential is realized and ambition fulfilled. This is how we will improve the lives of all our people.”

However, while in last week’s Autumn Statement he touted the Treasury’s decision to protect the UK’s £20 billion research and development budget at “the highest level this country has ever seen”, in his speech to the Prime Minister the minister did not mention the UK’s net zero emissions target. the benefits of improving energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy and clean technologies as a means of driving growth and innovation.

However, after his speech, a businessman in the audience asked him about rising energy costs for businesses and what the government was doing to encourage investment in cheaper renewable energy.

“It goes back to the investment,” Sunak replied. “Can we support you in making investments to make your business more energy efficient, to take advantage of new technologies?”

“I think we need a regulatory regime that incentivizes the creation of cheaper regulated renewable energy,” he added. “And we’re doing that — whether it’s CFD, whether it’s reducing the planning time for offshore wind turbines from four years to almost a year. This is something we can do to help solve this problem in the long term and give you confidence that it will be a country , where the energy you need is not only safe, but also clean and affordable.”

Sunak’s speech followed an opening speech by CBI director-general Tony Dunker, who said the UK economy desperately needed a Treasury “obsessed with private sector investment” that set “rules for growth, not barriers to growth” for business.

He complained that the current rules put in place by the government on skills, trade and planning are failing to unlock the UK’s growth potential and take advantage of £700bn of business opportunities in the 2020s. “Let’s be honest: None of these rules really work for growth,” Danker said.

To encourage business investment, Dunker called on the government to put in place more supportive rules and policies, stressing the need to loosen immigration rules, enable duty-free trade and fix Britain’s “broken” planning system.

“The UK’s planning system must be a key economic enabler to help us get the infrastructure we need and the major projects we need,” Dunker said. “We’ve been talking about this for years and it’s getting worse, slowly, piecemeal, filled with local politics. And if we don’t do it now, when will we ever change it?”

It comes amid reports that Environment Minister Theresa Coffey is keen to push ahead with former prime minister Liz Truss’ plan to effectively ban large-scale solar projects on large swathes of farmland. In addition, the government appears content to keep blocking new onshore wind power, despite ​polls showing that onshore renewables are more popular than ever with the vast majority of the public.

Danker also emphasized that the net zero transition represents a huge opportunity for innovation, investment and growth.

“Take decarbonisation, where the UK can really be a winner in the global net zero race,” he said. “We can really be leaders in the green technology and clean energy market. And we can be a global center for sustainable finance. Or innovation, where the UK can push forward what we’ve seen over the last couple of years, which is leadership in science and technology.”

Today’s remarks at the CBI follow reports this weekend that the government is set to launch a public energy-savings campaign before Christmas to help meet a new government target to cut UK energy use by around 15 per cent by the end of the decade.

The move aims to provide ratepayers with advice and information on how to reduce heating and electricity demand, for example by turning down thermostats by around two degrees, in the hope of saving households up to £400 a year. in accordance with The Times.

Other tips being discussed for inclusion in the national campaign include installing energy-efficient light bulbs and reducing boiler consumption.

The new follows the Treasury’s spending plans announced in last week’s Autumn Statement for an additional £6 billion of investment to improve Britain’s energy efficiency between 2025 and 2028. The emphasis on energy efficiency was welcomed by campaign participants, but Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also faced criticism for delaying any increase in energy efficiency funding for two years, launching a tax raid on renewable energy generators and electric cars, and failing to announce new measures to accelerate the deployment of clean technologies.

https://www.businessgreen.com/news/4060524/rishi-sunak-calls-bold-persistent-innovation-turn-tide-uk-economic-woes Rishi Sunak calls for “bold, persistent” innovation to turn around Britain’s economic woes

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