Avoiding No Deal and delivering a confidence boost to business through action on infrastructure, immigration, skills and business costs must be at the forefront of the next Government’s agenda, says the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). Anna Tobin reports
In its report, 2020 and beyond: business priorities for the next UK Government, compiled with input from the 53 UK accredited Chambers of Commerce and the BCC’s global network, the BCC outlines the main principles that will enable businesses large and small to give a much needed boost to the UK economy.
“The message from business communities all over the UK couldn’t be clearer: the next Government must deliver an end to the Brexit stalemate and take decisive steps to improve the business environment here at home,” said BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall. “To say business leaders are angry and frustrated would be putting it mildly. They are doing their bit for the country – and think it is high time politicians do their bit too.”
The BCC states that when it comes to business, the priorities for the next administration must be:
Avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU. Ensure the smoothest possible shift from a transition period to the future UK-EU relationship. Introduce a temporary SME Brexit tax credit to support businesses that need to undertake specific activity to adjust to changes in trading conditions.
Introduce a simple and flexible new immigration system that minimises the burden on businesses and allows access to all skill levels.
Increase funding for apprenticeships so that SMEs can access local training at all skill levels and reform the Apprenticeship Levy in England to allow businesses to use all forms of accredited training.
Business investment and costs
Launch a business-led review of the business rates system in England and Wales, and work with the Scottish Government to co-ordinate these reforms to provide a level playing field.
Extend the £1 million Annual Investment Allowance for two years and widen its scope.
Raise public investment in infrastructure to at least 1.4 per cent of GDP annually.
Complete the legal frameworks for all phases of HS2; deliver promised investment in Northern Powerhouse Rail and a UK-wide high-speed rail network as soon as possible.
Ensure continuity of trading conditions with third countries so businesses can still benefit from the levels of market access that they have had under EU free trade agreements.
Secure the future of the UK-EU trading relationship, minimise cross-border trade frictions and avoid a hard border with Ireland.