Captains of industry voice their concerns about UK digital infrastructure

More than half of industry leaders have rated rate the country’s digital infrastructure negatively and have urged for steps to be taken to improve levels after putting it at the top of their investment wish list.

Research conducted by Ipsos Mori found that bosses from across the top 500 companies by turnover and the top 100 by capital employed in the UK stressed digital is at the top of their priority list, with 61% of respondents rating it negatively and demanding investment by the government. 

While the vast majority agreed that all parts of the UK should have equal access to broadband internet, the same group were more resistant (46%) than supportive (42%) of the idea of paying to ensure that businesses in rural areas have the same quality of access.

These findings which are based on research carried out soon after publication of the National Infrastructure Assessment also shows how new housing supply, rail and motorways are the next most important sectors for investment. 

The results of the study also showed marked differences between industry and the public on investment priorities. While the local road network featured highly among the public’s wish-list (40%) - second only to rail infrastructure – only 11% of industry bosses think it should be a priority for investment. The gap is larger for digital infrastructure (28% vs 59%) and also large for flood defences (30% vs 9%).

Across most sectors, captains are more negative than the public, and are more opinionated and more critical when rating the country’s infrastructure overall. They are dissatisfied rather than satisfied by a margin two to one (58% to 27%).

Commenting on the findings, Ben Marshall, research director for Transport and Infrastructure at Ipsos MORI, said: “Captains of industry are not unhappy with their own business’ broadband but prioritise it for national investment.  These national-local perception gap, possibly reflects an appetite to upgrade business-critical infrastructure and remain competitive globally. There are two ways of looking at the findings on who should pay. On the one hand, there is sizeable resistance among leaders of these large businesses to the notion that everyone should pay to ensure equal access for some rural-based business. On the other, many do say they would pay for others.”

If you would like to contact Ryan Tute about this, or any other story, please email