With the General Election now behind us, it’s now time to shift the emphasis back on reviving the economy.
In my mind, achieving sustainable growth should be the main priority of any government. Britain needs to stay competitive in a global economy and those at Whitehall need to intervene to create the right conditions for growth and enterprise. So what should Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce expect from an incoming one?
‘retain existing talent and develop the skills of the current workforce’
My personal wishes for the next Conservative government is to ensure we have measures in place to retain existing talent and develop the skills of the current workforce as well as train the next generation of workers. There are many employees who are working parents and initiatives, which for example, give working parents increased financial support to access childcare, allows more businesses to retain their skilled workforce which will in turn help to drive economic growth.
‘growing Britain’s global trade potential’
Secondary, growing Britain’s global trade potential by removing barriers to trade, building international networks and investing in our export skills base will enable more Northamptonshire businesses to fulfil their global ambitions.
Exports is an area where many Northamptonshire firms perform strongly, however the government can do more to encourage potential exporters in the county to take those first steps trading overseas and reap the benefits from new markets and becoming a global brand.
‘give businesses a greater say in local decision-making to boost the economies of our towns and Northamptonshire as a whole’
Another action area for the incoming Conservative government is to drive down business costs and taxes. Britain has a business rates system which is no longer fit-for-purpose and instead hampers investment and growth. The main criticism is that it results in firms paying wildly different sums because their properties have different rateable values. It is also an issue which has been raised as a concern in our Quarterly Economic Surveys and my colleagues at The British Chambers of Commerce have set out a compelling case for reform. In March, the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition government announced a wide-ranging review of the system in the Budget 2015. Let’s hope the incoming Conservative government fulfils that pledge.
‘securing progress is a marathon, not a sprint’
I would also urge the new Conservative government to give businesses a greater say in local decision-making to boost the economies of our towns and Northamptonshire as a whole. It will encourage local authorities to become more sensitive to business issues and costs, and ensure local economic plans are genuinely designed to drive business growth.
Here are my final thoughts: securing progress is a marathon, not a sprint. It is essential for the new Conservative government to adopt consistent pro-growth policies fit for the long-term to increase business confidence. Only then, can we encourage commercial growth and local prosperity.