Responding to the Chancellor’s speech at Conservative Party conference, Tej Parikh, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:
“The Chancellor’s speech largely hit the right notes, but the prospect of no deal still looms large.
“Funding for transport infrastructure upgrades was top of the domestic wish list for business leaders coming into the year. The UK is playing catch-up on broadband too, so the Government’s ambitions on fibre will be well-received by directors. The prospect of increased decision-making powers for regions will also whet the appetite.
“Long-term thinking is necessary and welcome, but businesses are faced with immediate challenges, particularly should a no deal Brexit come to pass. The Treasury must be ready to act decisively, and should consider a moratorium on forthcoming business burdens, and financial assistance for small firms to adapt.”
On the proposal to raise the living wage, Parikh commented:
“All sides must be wary of playing a bidding war with minimum and living wages. Raising the thresholds is a delicate balancing act, as too high a bar risks forcing firms to reduce staff numbers amid elevated costs, particularly with Brexit disruption on the cards. It’s crucial that the approach is evidence-based, which is why the Low Pay Commission was set up in the first place.”
On the proposal of a Brexit Red Tape Challenge, Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy commented:
“Looking at ways to soothe the regulatory headaches small firms struggle with is a positive ambition, but it shouldn’t be arbitrarily restricted to EU rules. There is no time like the present to tackle all business burdens – we shouldn’t need to wait for Brexit.
“The greater challenge for business is often what's in front of it rather than behind. Immediate priority should be given to reviewing the introduction of new burdens such as the draft digital services tax. Introduced with little consultation, pushing ahead as is risks constraining tech firms large and small, undermining our full innovative potential for attracting investment, and acting as a potential check on the UK's new global trading ambitions.”