OECD: Boosting UK productivity is key to prosperity

Image source, PA

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says further progress in UK living standards depends on higher productivity.

It says the UK's growth rate is now the highest in the G7 leading nations at 2.6%, but output per worker needs to rise to maintain growth.

But wide-ranging government policies have aided recovery, the OECD says.

These include low interest rates, quantitative easing (QE) and support for the housing market.

In its latest report, the body says employment has recovered to its pre-crisis trend and is now at record levels. However, weak labour productivity since 2007 has been holding back real wages and, it says, well-being.

The sustainability of economic expansion and further progress in living standards rest on boosting productivity growth, which is a key challenge for the coming years.

Although government schemes to help people buy property had been helpful, there were also risks to watch out for, the OECD added.

It said housing supply had not risen to meet demand and that a sudden rise in house prices could create risks to financial stability.

It said transport could be improved by introducing more toll roads.

And it said other infrastructure needed more participation from the private sector in the form of Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

This type of funding has its critics, who say it is expensive. It typically involves commercial third parties who expect to make a profit on their investment, rather than the government simply borrowing directly on the market at the lower rates that a sovereign government typically enjoys.

Another criticism is that governments use PPP to hide the extent of infrastructure spending, because it is not entered as normal government borrowing.

The OECD says the government should be more open with the public about this type of funding.

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