Some manufacturing firms are paying "inflated" prices of up to £5,000 a year to secure sufficient broadband speeds, according to EEF, the manufacturers' organisation.

The organisation found that a quarter of small and medium-sized manufacturers were paying at least the £5,000 figure. It claimed that too much focus has been given to improving residential access, while businesses have been forgotten, and the EEF called on government to "urgently" take action.

Nine in ten of those surveyed by the EEF said sufficient broadband is "as essential to business as electricity and water". But EEF warned that if action is not taken soon, the UK could be left behind in the fourth industrial revolution. Two thirds said they plan to increase investment in equipment and services that are reliant on fast broadband.

"While the quality of networks isn't currently an issue, companies are paying inflated sums to have proper access and are fearful they will not have competitive access five years down the line," said Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist.

The EEF wants a review of competition in the business broadband industry, with a view to prices coming down by the end of this parliament.