Measures announced in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech to help small and growing businesses and speed up infrastructure projects have been welcomed by Business West, the organisation behind the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative.
It also praised the Coalition Government for promising a relatively small number of new Bills in its final year before the General Election – a move criticised by the Opposition but one that Business West said should mean ministers deliver on their promises.
Business West managing director Phil Smith said: “Businesses across the South West will be relieved to see that the Government has opted for a streamlined legislative programme, allowing ministers to devote more time to delivering the best possible environment for economic growth and enterprise.
“Businesses hold governments accountable not for how many bills they pass, but for what they actually deliver.
“If the legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech means better infrastructure, a better environment for growing companies, and improved access to finance, then businesses will give ministers the credit they deserve. Action, not words and bills, is what matters for business.”
On the planned Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, Mr Smith said: “Simplifying life for small or growing businesses should be an objective shared across all political parties.
“There are many measures in the Bill that will receive support if they work in practice – including faster company registration, improvements to public sector payment, and measures to support business cash flow.
“The vast majority of law-abiding businesses will also favour a clampdown on rogue employers who do not pay the National Minimum Wage, and on company directors who act unscrupulously. The key here will be to ensure that enforcement focuses on those businesses and individuals that knowingly and wilfully flout the law. Any measures that tie up honest businesses in new bureaucracy would ultimately be self-defeating.”
The planned Infrastructure Bill was also welcomed. “It is one thing to announce new infrastructure, but quite another to deliver it,” said Mr Smith. “We believe that the Bill proposed by ministers has the potential to speed up the road, rail and energy projects that business needs to invest and grow.”
Business West supports the transformation of the Highways Agency into a more flexible body, with five-year investment programmes – a change it thinks will offer more certainty to business on key road projects across the South West.
“Measures to speed up the planning for major infrastructure schemes in this region are welcome, but only if they actually cut the complexity that dogs so many key energy and transport projects,” added Mr Smith.
Business West represents more than 16,000 businesses in the South West including its network of chambers of commerce in Bristol, Bath, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.