L&G: We must fix ‘low growth, low wage’ UK
BRITAIN must act urgently to avoid falling further behind global rivals and save workers from 15 years of wage stagnation, says legal and General’s boss.
Chief executive Sir nigel Wilson slammed squabbles and sclerotic decision-making as firms drift away from the stock market and UK start-ups fall into foreign hands.
‘For 20 to 30 years we’ve underinvested in the UK – and we want to put the “great” back into britain by capitalising on all the brilliant universities we have, the amazing start-ups we have, who are just starved of capital,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to get capital in, particularly pension capital.’ the insurance and pension giant’s boss was speaking as it reported a 12pc rise in annual operating profits to £2.5bn.
Wilson, who intends to retire after more than a decade in the job, is backing reforms to unlock tens of billions of pounds in pension funds to be invested in infrastructure and innovation.
He wants more funds to invest in shares. ‘We need a much higher percentage investing in the brilliant start-ups we’ve got and making them into scale-ups, and supporting growth, productivity. the UK is a low-productivity, low- growth, low- wage economy fraught by political infighting. that has to change.’
He said that he was worried about the ‘perpetual drift’ of companies away from london’s stock market – with the Cambridge-based chip designer arm becoming the most prominent recent example.
Wilson lamented that decisionmaking was much quicker for new projects in countries such as Germany and the US.
He said: ‘We’re the masters of delaying planning.’
Investment will push up living standards, he said. ‘Real wages haven’t gone anywhere in 15 years and that’s no good.’