Opinion – Britain can only walk tall if productivity is reignited – Martin Wolf – FT.com – John Gelmini

I agree with Dr Alf. UK public sector productivity is just 32% or 70 working days out of 220, whilst corporate sector productivity is 48% or just 106 working days out of 220.

Before that, just before the Olympics and the Jubilee, it was 20% higher but even then, it was 16% behind the average for the G7.

The problem is not new but goes back to the 1850s so people who say that we are dealing with a new problem are being disingenuous or are uninformed about the facts.

Great Britain in 1885 employed just 15000 civil servants to run the largest empire the world had ever known but even then German productivity per worker was higher.

In 1916 Lloyd George had to bring in the licensing laws we still have today because munitions workers were too drunk to complete their shifts and were too idle to produce enough shells when they were sober.

In the Second World War, we produced tanks guns, bombs and planes at such a slow rate that the Germans were oil-producing us by a margin of 2.5 to 1 (Source: Corelli Barnett-Audit of War).

We were saved by American efficiency experts, turret lathes and boring machines, American money and Lord Beaverbrook allegedly being sent by the Committee of 300 to order Roosevelt to get America into the war.

Since the war, we lost shipbuilding to the South Koreans, clothing, footwear and toy manufacturing to the Chinese, car manufacturing to the Germans and the Japanese, software development to India and by 2016 will have slipped to 4th position behind Hong Kong, Singapore and New York as a global financial center.

Even English council houses could not be made by bricks manufactured by Englishmen as MacMillan had wanted in 1953 but instead had to be manufactured by Italians brought over to Bedfordshire and Northampton shire by his administration.

It’s time for the UK government to get serious.

John Gelmini