The government's current high speed broadband programme's slow progress is hampering the UK manufacturing sector, an Engineering Employers' Foundation (EEF) survey has found.

Members of EEF, the manufacturers' association, said that they are becoming increasingly dependent on high quality broadband access to maintain customer and supplier relationships like supporting maintenance and servicing.

But despite a reported improvement in broadband over the last two years, digital networks are still poorly rated. Just under half of manufacturers surveyed said the UK's digital infrastructure networks were 'poor'.

The chancellor's high speed broadband programme was too slow and there is a lack of communication and clarity regarding upgrades to the network, members said.

Further investment in broadband should be a top priority for government, along with road and energy networks, they added.

Chris Richards, business environment policy advisor at EEF said: "The message from manufacturers to the chancellor for the remainder of this parliament is clear; complete the job on vital roads, energy and broadband projects. As far as industry is concerned these are far more important than redirecting planning resources to new aspirational projects."

The survey results closely follow research from the office for national statistics, which revealed that UK manufacturing firms with poor IT saw productivity fall. Firms that have invested in better connectivity have become more profitable, with 11 percent productivity growth per year.

The EEF suggested a permanent 'UK Infrastructure Authority' to "help identify long term infrastructure needs, improve integration between transport networks and, develop analysis in a more transparent way to better gain public trust for major infrastructure projects".