Dear Prime Minister,
Congratulations on your election victory from the British Chambers of Commerce, the 52 accredited Chambers in every nation and region of the United Kingdom, and our growing network of overseas British Chambers and business groups helping companies to trade around the world.
In return for your continued commitment to an environment that encourages enterprise and aspiration, businesses in all parts of the United Kingdom stand ready to deliver prosperity, jobs, and sustained economic growth.
Over the coming months, you must use your strengthened mandate to take bold action on six issues that will determine the UK’s economic future:
- PUBLIC SPENDING: business wants a plan for fiscal consolidation that is carefully balanced with the overriding need to nurture growth and investment. Growth, not austerity, should be the watchword as you continue the difficult work of eliminating the deficit.
- TRADE: business wants a long-term partnership with government to kindle an export revolution. We wish to work with you urgently to put in place measures that use the ingenuity and drive of Britain’s entrepreneurs to address our unsustainable current account deficit. The independent Cole Commission’s recommendations should be your compass.
- TALENT: business and government must also do more together to equip young people for the world of work and enterprise. We must not fail bright young people who never see the front gates of a university, who also have so much to contribute to business and our country.
- INVESTMENT: do not be afraid to create bold tax incentives for UK companies that make long-term investments in people, plant, premises and export growth. Grow the British Business Bank, including your excellent proposal on Help to Grow, and continue the drive to tame regulatory burdens. Recent decades of underinvestment will take time, and sharp focus, to overcome.
- EUROPE: we continue to support your search for a new settlement for Britain in Europe. Business wants fundamental reform of the UK’s relationship with the EU, safeguards that prevent decisions on our economic interests being taken by the Eurozone, and a referendum on that settlement.
- INFRASTRUCTURE: irreversible commitments to new airport capacity in the South East of England – and to the delivery of the positive road, rail, energy and communications enhancements announced during the last parliament.
Above all, Prime Minister, be ambitious. Make no apologies for seeking the highest growth and investment rates, and the lowest unemployment and taxation rates, amongst the UK’s global peers. Fight the Whitehall culture of incrementalism, risk-aversion and inertia that stops much-needed change. Only then can business and government, together, work to ensure that a prosperous, confident UK can pay its way in the world for decades to come.
I look forward to discussing these critical issues with you very soon.
Director General, British Chambers of Commerce