Business West urges Theresa May to ‘fix the fundamentals’ of the economy

May 22, 2018

The managing director of the West of England’s largest business group this week joined more than 50 other chamber of commerce leaders to urge the Prime Minister to take radical action and ‘fix the fundamentals’ of the UK economy.

Phil Smith from Business West – the organisation behind the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative – was one of 53 signatories to a British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) letter calling on Theresa May for a renewed focus on tackling the barriers to growth and investment in the UK. 

The chamber leaders met in Manchester on Tuesday to discuss the action they say is urgently needed to balance the importance of securing the best possible deal with the EU while also setting out a vision for UK growth and a bold set of domestic policies to boost the economy at a time of sluggish growth.

They said businesses across the UK were concerned about the perceived inaction in Westminster and Whitehall on key domestic economic matters at a time when attention and swift action were needed for the UK to succeed after it leaves the EU.

Writing on behalf of the chambers from every region and nation of the UK, BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall said in the letter: “Our future success depends not just on Brexit negotiations, but also on the big economic decisions that must be made here in the UK. It is time, Prime Minister, for you to set out a compelling, pro-enterprise and pro-growth vision for the future, and a bold set of domestic policies to make it happen.

“It is time for you to tell business communities across the UK how your government will act – fast – to stabilise the faltering training and apprenticeship system and give clarity on migration rules, as businesses face unprecedented labour and skills shortages all across the country.

“It is time for visible action to rebuild our rutted and potholed roads, to use the resources of the State to build more homes, and to speed up the delivery of airport, rail and energy upgrades.

“It is time to eliminate the significant gaps in mobile and digital connectivity that continue to strangle business productivity and UK competitiveness – the central theme of our ‘No More Not Spots’ campaign.

“It is time to set a new mandate for HMRC and economic regulators to support, rather than pursue and punish, the small and medium-sized firms that can drive future growth and focus their enforcement activities on the small number of companies pursuing questionable practices that are ultimately paid for by the rest.

“After decades of delay and incremental change, it is time to tackle the huge costs and complexities of the UK tax system, which actively discourage investment, risk-taking, and the stronger export performance we all want to see.

“And it is time for your government to deliver a far more explicit blueprint to support economic growth in all regions and nations – including greater local decision-making, away from the centralising instincts of Westminster and the devolved administrations.

“Prime Minister, the many thousands of firms we collectively represent are clear: business as usual is not good enough at a time of significant uncertainty. A concerted drive to ‘fix the fundamentals’ would unlock business confidence and investment – and set the UK on a path to long-term growth, alongside a comprehensive settlement between the UK and EU.”

Business West represents more than 20,000 business across the region through its chambers of commerce, including those covering Bristol, Bath and Gloucestershire.


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