On Thursday 7 May, voters up and down the UK will vote in the 2015 General Election.
In February I was lucky enough to hear the three main parties as they spoke at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Annual Conference.
I listened as issues such as the global and domestic uncertainties businesses face, business payments and access to finance, and the importance of equipping the next generation with the skills needed were all discussed. Each party maximized the opportunity given to speak to a room full of business leaders ahead of the election. Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the Government would be introducing a new pilot finance scheme, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls used his speech to stress the importance of the UK remaining in the EU, whilst Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg focused on the importance of tackling the 6.5 million women of working age currently not in employment.
One thing that I took away from the conference was the need for long term planning when it comes to business. Whoever does come into power in May needs to remain consistent in its approach to business, for example with taxation, business rates and red tape regulations. Consistency breeds confidence.
Another issue that needs addressing by the incoming Government is that of devolution. By this I mean the passing down of power, funding streams, and tax and business rates policy to ground level; from national Government through to City, Borough, District and Parish Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). In my opinion, devolution will play an important part in creating the consistency needed by the business community.
As we get closer to the election, we want less point scoring and more tangible policies and pledges. We want to see a clear defining line between each party and what it stands for so that we – as businesses and individuals – can make informed choices.
We want to hear how an incoming Government will create the conditions where companies say yes to long-deferred investment plans, yes to taking risks in new export markets, yes to training, and yes to taking on new recruits. Most of all, we want to hear each party’s visions for a better Britain - a Britain that is a great place for business, for aspiration and for opportunity.