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Business leaders won’t mind tight focus on immediate challenges

21 Jun 2017

big ben and the river thamesResponding to the Queen’s Speech, Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“We were expecting a stripped-back Queen’s Speech and that’s what we got, but business leaders will actually be pleased to see the tighter focus on the most immediate challenges. There was also a welcome change of tone, clearly acknowledging the value of enterprise to the country and the importance of including businesses in discussions about what our future looks like. It is, of course, unlikely that the process of getting Brexit legislation through Parliament will be as smooth as it was presented today, but in the circumstances we were not expecting to get much more detail than we have received.

“The scale of the task ahead is significant and business confidence, in light of our present political limbo, is low. As such, commitments to pursue the Industrial Strategy and to tackle the skills shortage will be useful signals to industry that the Government – despite Brexit – intends to address our domestic challenges. Those building businesses across the country will expect cross-party support to boost our global competitiveness.

“More clarity on future tax measures and on our future trading arrangements would have been useful for businesses to plan for the future, and it is disappointing that corporate governance reform was not explicitly mentioned.

“All in all, business leaders will have been relatively heartened by the promise of a Parliament devoid of distractions and focussed on delivering the most pragmatic, open and global Brexit possible, as well as much-needed domestic upgrades. It will be crucial, however, that the Government builds on today with additional detail over the weeks and months to follow, or the resilience of the business community may start to wane.”

On specific measures:

On the Smart Meter Bill, Dan Lewis, Senior Adviser on Infrastructure Policy, said:

“The proposed Smart Meters bill is a clear admission that the programme is way behind schedule and the background infrastructure is in trouble. The cost of this programme to consumers seems to be moving in one direction – up – and we urge the Government to consider what impact this extension may have. The UK will now move from a mass rollout target of December 2020, to a 5 year extension taking us to 2025. There has never been a better time to halt the rollout and review all the options.”

The IoD called for a halt and review of the programme before the election in our pre-election briefing note, Future-Proofing Energy.

On the plans to boost our space infrastructure, Lewis continued:

“Space is the one industrial sector where the sky is emphatically not the limit. This is the fastest frowning sector of the UK economy and it is welcome that the Government is seizing the opportunity to join the global race.“

The IoD’s 2012 report, The UK Space Economy, laid out a vision of a Britain leading the way in the economic space race. 

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