'Business as usual not good enough' say businesses

Chamber of Commerce business leaders across the United Kingdom have come together in a joint letter to the Prime Minister calling for tougher action to tackle barriers to growth and investment.

Written on behalf of the 53 accredited Chambers of Commerce in every region and nation of the UK, the letter says it’s time to ‘fix the fundamentals’ for UK growth with a renewed focus and a radical plan for action.

It comes amid concerns from the business community over perceived inaction on vital domestic economic matters, while EU negotiations continue.

Business leaders have urged the Prime Minister to balance the importance of securing the best possible deal with the EU, with the urgent need to set out a compelling UK growth strategy and ‘bold domestic policies’ to fix fundamental issues at home. They say swift action is needed if the UK is to succeed after Brexit.

Letter to Prime Minister

Writing on behalf of the chambers, British Chambers of Commerce Director General, Adam Marshall, said: “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.”

The letter also called for more work to be done to eliminate persisting gaps in mobile and digital connectivity in line with the organisation’s ‘No More Not Spots’ campaign.

‘New mandate for HMRC’

On the topic of tax, the letter states: “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.”

The letter concludes: “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.”