Over a month on from the EU Referendum on 23rd June, the repercussions are still being felt across the UK, politically, socially and economically.
Politically, the Conservative Party have moved with impressive speed to secure the stability of the Government following the departure of David Cameron the morning after Referendum.
Socially, there have been unfortunate consequences of the vote to leave the European Union, with an increase in reports of racism and an escalation of tensions within communities across the country. Northamptonshire Chamber vehemently opposes any kind of racism and discrimination and has recently spoken out against this.
Economically, there was already signs that UK growth was slowing, which has been highlighted by various economic data releases, in addition to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Quarterly Economic Survey (QES). Exemplifying this was the UKs lacklustre trade and investment figures released in late May, where business investment fell by 0.5% and exports fell by 0.3%, whilst at the same time imports rose by 0.8% - putting further strain on the county’s balance of payments. This a fundamental issue during the EU Referendum campaign with the UK importing more than exports to Europe, meaning that trade deals must play a critical role in Governments negotiations with Europe going forward.
Following the result to leave the EU on June 23rd, it quickly became apparent that volatility in the foreign exchange markets would impact businesses. Consequently, the BCC sought to raise the profile of the Chamber networks foreign exchange provider, MoneyCorp, which is available to all members of Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, which provides savings to members – based on low transfer fees – as well as expert advice and guidance 24/7.
Furthermore, businesses assessed how the vote to leave would impact on their availability not only to get access to skilled labour, but also how their current employees from the EU would be impacted. On this note, the Government must move quickly to reassure the businesses community that those currently in employment here must be allowed to stay. Doing otherwise would adversely affect businesses ability to access skills they so urgently need growth and develop their business. Members concerned by employment law can access the Chambers dedicated HR Helpline provided by QDOS.
Now that the new Prime Minister, Theresa May has appointed her cabinet, the Government must move quickly to reassure the business community and potential inward investors by getting on with business of governing. Key themes based on conversations with member firms and survey responses show that a reduction in corporation tax, exempting investment in plant and machinery from business rates, and firming up the nation’s infrastructure should be front and centre of Government policy making.
For too long the successive Government have neglected the UKs infrastructure, essential to the county’s growth and prosperity. Decisions on airport capacity in the South East, boosting energy capacity to meet future demand, addressing the nation’s productivity and skills gaps, which have for too long plagued businesses. All of this would show that the UK is very much open for business and is ready to stand proud on the world stage, independent of the European Union, as it competes for investment.
Finally, we strongly urge member firms to continue to engage with your local Chamber on policy and business related issues by getting in touch on 01604 490490 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This is part of the ‘representation’ offer which is incorporated within your membership. Ultimately, we’re here to represent the interests of your business by lobbying on your behalf as well as addressing issues that are pertinent to you. This then enables you to get on with running your business, safe in the knowledge that the Chambers there to support you.
Author Simon Dishman