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Businesses are planning to invest this year in order to improve efficiency and remain competitive in their market, according to the latest 'Attitudes to Business Investment' survey from Lombard.

The survey found that the vast majority (82%) of businesses in the UK are planning to invest to boost efficiency, with nearly three-quarters (71%) saying that investment plays a key part in improving productivity levels.

Almost two-thirds (62%) said new technology would help to increase efficiency, with 45% claiming it would boost their overall competitiveness. A quarter of manufacturers said new technology would help to drive exports. And 57% of firms are planning to increase investment to support exports this year, with that figure rising to 80% for manufacturers.

Ian Isaac, head of Lombard, said: "It's very encouraging that UK businesses, and manufacturers in particular, are taking an enterprising approach to the importance of investing to secure their place in the competitive global arena.

"The findings of the survey indicate that UK businesses are very aware of what they need to do in order to secure ongoing and sustainable growth. Within their business plans, investment aimed at securing innovation, improving productivity and establishing strong export markets will continue to play a fundamental role in the future health of the UK economy."

Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "It's the worst kept that the UK has a big productivity challenge. We've lost a lot of ground since the financial crisis, but the UK has some real potential strength in its industrial sector, which historically has a good track record in delivering productivity gains. The need for a laser-like focus on driving through efficiency improvements, innovating and investing in new technologies is central to the business model of manufacturers, a fact confirmed in this research. While we see lots of concrete steps being taken by manufacturers to grow and be competitive in a challenging economic climate, it's never job done."