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Areas of influence

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The IoD concentrates on the issues of most concern to business, examining them in depth and drawing substantially on our members' experience.

We exert our influence in a number of different ways:

  • By taking a position in the media, both nationally and locally
  • Through direct discussion with government ministers
  • Through detailed discussions with civil servants
  • Through written responses to consultation documents
  • Through production of research and policy papers

To maximise our influence, we communicate the IoD viewpoint to the full range of policy-makers. We are in frequent contact with ministers, civil servants, special advisers and government agencies to ensure that IoD members' views are represented accurately at all stages of the policy process.

The Director General of the IoD, Stephen Martin, is our senior spokesman. He has a busy programme of meetings with cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries and senior opposition figures. He is frequently quoted in the national media, putting the IoD message across on radio, TV and in the newspapers.

Where appropriate, the IoD works in partnership with other business groups in the UK to maximise the impact of the business point of view. In addition, the IoD currently provides unpaid secretariat support to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Trade and Investment.


The IoD believes in the need for higher standards and greater competition in education, a skills system that genuinely responds to employers’ needs, and a business environment conducive to employer investment in skills.

The UK faces a challenge in education that it is currently failing to meet. The IoD believes that radical reform is required to address current weaknesses and that competition is central to driving up education standards. We strongly support measures to open up the sector to new providers, and to increase the autonomy given to education institutions to run their own affairs.

In the long term, a world-class education system is an essential prerequisite for a world-class skills system. Continuing weaknesses in education perpetuate long-standing skills deficiencies, particularly in literacy and numeracy – IoD members believe the improvement of these to be the top education priority for government.

IoD research shows that a lack of skills is holding back business growth. We believe that the biggest brake on employer investment in training is a lack of resources, not a lack of law or government initiatives. We believe government should avoid regulation in the skills arena and concentrate on improving the wider business environment – leaving employers with more resources to invest in enhancing the skills of their workforces.

Seamus Nevin is Head of Employment and Skills Policy


Europe and trade is a broad-ranging brief covering policy affecting the relationship between UK firms and their trading partners across the world. UK membership of the EU means that British firms are particularly integrated into European markets, both in terms of goods and services. This high level of integration is reflected in the prominence given to Europe in the brief.  

It covers:

  • UK trade and investment
  • International free trade deals
  • European politics and regulation
  • European capital markets

Allie Renision is Head of Europe & Trade Policy


Corporate governance is the structure through which an organisation is directed, controlled and held accountable. It defines a framework of rights, responsibilities, procedures and relationships among the various stakeholders of an organisation, including its directors, managers, shareholders and regulators. The board of directors – or equivalent governing body – is at the heart of any framework of corporate governance, and is arguably the most important mechanism for ensuring the organisation makes effective decisions consistent with its ultimate objectives and mission.

Oliver Parry is Head of Corporate Governance


The IoD believes it is vital that government produces policies and initiatives aimed at fostering the business environment in which enterprise can thrive. Topics examined here range from business support through to sub-national economic development, with a particular interest in SMEs.


The infrastructure brief incorporates energy, roads, railways, airports, ports, utilities, telecommunications, flood defences, waste and local amenities.

UK infrastructure was once among the best in the world. Great innovators such as Brunel and Stephenson were pioneers of the railway, which revolutionised the way people and goods moved around the country.

The UK still benefits from its Victorian infrastructure inheritance, and other parts of our more recent transport network function relatively well. But we have lost our dynamic infrastructural edge, as we try to contend with new challenges like planning, public acceptance and the environment. And there are risks to the security of our energy supply, as replacements for our ageing coal and nuclear power stations are not built quickly enough and environmental regulations and taxes, which should be better focused on reducing emissions in the cheapest way, push up the cost of powering the country.

Infrastructure for Business – a policy paper series – looks at the key energy, transport and technology developments that the IoD believes would help the UK regain competitiveness and encourage a thriving private sector. We need to put Britain back in the lead again to help our firms compete in the world. 

Dan Lewis is Senior Adviser, Infrastructure Policy


The IoD believes regulation, while welcome where essential, can often serve to stifle business and should be kept to a minimum if we are to have a flourishing enterprise culture. This section examines the regulatory sphere and its likely impact on employment.


Key issues in the economic outlook include: forecasts and analysis of UK and global economic prospects; the future of the euro crisis and the impact of quantitative easing.

Economic policy

Issues cover the monetary, fiscal and supply-side policies for growth advocated by the IoD. Monetary policy focuses on the IoD’s stance with regard to interest-rate policy and quantitative easing. Fiscal policy focuses on the IoD’s stance with regard to public spending, taxation and deficit reduction. Supply-side policy focuses on the reforms advocated by the IoD in order to boost the competitiveness of the UK economy.

James Sproule is Chief Economist and Director of Policy


Taxes are among the most significant burdens on business. They reduce the return on investment, unfavourably influencing the balance between risk and reward. They drive a wedge between the cost of employing people and the take-home rewards those people demand in return for their skills and efforts. And they can also impose large administrative burdens.

The Institute of Directors believes we need to improve both the design of the tax system and its administration. We are against new tax burdens, and we want to see existing ones reduced.

What the section covers:

  • Radical tax reform
  • Tax competitiveness
  • Administrative simplification
  • Income tax and national insurance
  • Corporation tax
  • Capital gains tax and inheritance tax
  • VAT and other indirect taxes
  • Business rates

Stephen Herring is Head of Taxation

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