‘Bright, sunny periods with stormy intervals... and that concludes the business forecast for the UK’
Welcome to the Summer issue of IoD East Midlands. As I wrote this editorial the mood music in the country is good: the sky is blue, the sun warm, Gareth Southgate is a national treasure and all feels well with the world. Oh, for it still to be so by the time you read this!
It’s interesting how economists have responded to the warm summer and the excitement of the football. One said the combination had added £800m to the economy. I never quite know how they reach these figures – I’ve always had a suspicion that they think up a number, then double it, and then pronounce it as fact – but there is definitely a positive boost as people spend more on the high street. Whether they can afford to spend that cash is a different matter! I presume the economists are applying the ‘multiplier effect’ to come up with their figures, as they do when they discuss big ticket capital projects, such as HS2 or Heathrow, and hail their long term impact to the economy.
Given we know that such projects do make a positive contribution to the economy, why do we carp so much about their value? For what was once a great engineering nation we seem to have a fear about such projects today – even when they are delivered on time and on budget. We’ve already seen the battle lines drawn up over proposals to expand Heathrow, and the lack of spades in the ground on HS2 continues to frustrate. I was reminded of the lack of progress on HS2 when considering a new high speed rail line being added to the French network near Le Mans. Similar in scale to the London-Birmingham line, it will be completed in a quarter of the time of the UK version. Why?
Capital state-led projects have a big contribution to make in a balanced economy. I have long thought the government’s austerity programme was too sharp and too steep, cutting off investment that could have revitalised the economy. When I was at Nottingham Trent University I was always very aware of the positive impact our investments had on the city around us, bringing in more students to spend their grants and work. It’s a case of reaping and sowing: invest – and see the rewards later.
In this (so far) beautiful summer, the only consistent storm cloud on the horizon comes in the shape of Brexit – the political headache of a lifetime. I remember writing, two years ago, that while surprised by the result of the referendum, all business leaders would strive to make the new landscape work post-EU – as long as they knew what that landscape would look like. ‘Just tell us what the deal is, and we’ll sort it out’, we said then.
Two years on, we’re not much clearer. The Government’s Chequers deal has triggered rancour and resignations, but at least seemed like a move forwards. But there is still much confusion and the feeling that the business voice is being marginalised – as the likes of Jaguar, Airbus and Nissan pointed out.
When you have multi-million pound – sometimes billion – investments, scaled over several years, in the pipeline, it is difficult not to get frustrated when you simply do not know how the land will lie when your new products starting rolling off the production line. How can you plan when you don’t know what the future holds? It’s no good for politicians to criticise businesses when they voice their concerns: it is us who create the jobs, generate the wealth, for politicians to spend. If they refuse to listen to the business voice, they may find themselves steering a rapidly listing ship! Enjoy your summer. By autumn, the mystery around Brexit may have cleared. One can hope so.
Emily returns to academic studies after a great year in the IoD office
IoD East Midlands’ placement student, Emily Gunn, leaves us this month to continue her studies at Nottingham Trent University. She writes...
My year at the IoD has been a very valuable learning experience. Coming into the role as a Psychology student I quickly learnt about the business world. It was great to attend events where I could build professional relationships with business leaders and also where I could be inspired by great speakers and the members I spoke to.
A highlight of my time was the Women As Leaders Convention that we held in May. Hearing the stories from the successful women speakers was really inspiring.
I have really enjoyed my time at the IoD and I have appreciated having the opportunity to work with everyone I have met throughout the year. Thank you to Cari for the support, guidance and encouragement she has provided me during my time at the IoD. Also, thank you to Ron and Sue for working with me throughout my placement and ensuring I got the most out of my time here that I could.
I will very much miss the IoD and the East Midlands team but I am looking forward to going back into my final year at university, and then onwards to pursuing a career in occupational psychology.
As part of my final year I will be doing my dissertation. The topic is mental health in the workplace, and I would really appreciate your help in compiling case studies and reports.
If you could help by answering a short questionnaire or agreeing to take part in a short interview on the subject, I would be very grateful.
If you are interested in taking part, please contact me via the regional office. Apart from that, goodbye and please keep in touch: I can be reached through my LinkedIn page.