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Close Brothers Asset Finance quarterly survey reveals traffic congestion is reaching crisis point across the UK affecting productivity and profitability

Traffic congestion ‘getting steadily worse’ and hitting firms in the pocket

  • 83% of SMEs say that traffic congestion is ‘a problem’ with 65% say it’s ‘getting worse’
  • 41% are seeing profits negatively affected by traffic congestion
  • 41% feel traffic congestion is impacting their ability to operate at full capacity

While Brexit dominates the news agenda, traffic congestion is reaching crisis point across the UK, affecting both productivity and profitability, according to research from Close Brothers Asset Finance’s quarterly survey of businesses in the UK and Ireland.

Over eight in 10 (83%) respondents feel that traffic congestion is ‘a problem’ with a further 65% thinking it’s getting more severe; only 17% feel it’s getting better and the remaining 18% are ‘unsure’.

Compounding the impact of congestion, 41% of SMEs are currently unable to trade at full capacity while 41% again are seeing their profits take a hit through lost productivity. In London the problem is particularly acute, where 62% are struggling to trade properly and 57% losing profits.

“A recent study confirmed that UK drivers wasted on average of 31 hours in rush-hour traffic last year, costing each motorist £1,168,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance. “The UK is the world’s 10th most congested country and London is Europe’s second most gridlocked city after Moscow. Manchester, Birmingham, Luton and Edinburgh complete the UK’s top five major areas affected.

“As an example, one of our employees recently spent over nine hours in a traffic jam after the Dartford crossing was closed. This effectively meant that as a business we lost a whole day’s worth of output, and this is replicated across the country, costing billions of pounds in lost productivity.”

Road network suitability

Interestingly, businesses are divided down the middle about whether the UK’s road network can cope with existing traffic levels, with a 48% (yes) and 52% (no) split.

“What our research is telling us is that the solution to traffic congestion lies in a holistic approach, including road, rail, air and maritime,” said Neil. “A number of measures have had some success but it’s clear more needs to be done.”

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