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Lib Dems score some hits for business, but can’t put all eggs in the Brexit basket

20 Nov 2019

lib dems

Responding to the Liberal Democrats’ General Election manifesto, Edwin Morgan, Director of Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“All manifestos will inevitably be a mixed bag for business, but the Lib Dems certainly scored some hits.

“The sustained focus on skills will be welcomed by directors, specific stress points in the system have been well diagnosed, from childcare to lifelong learning. Expanding the Apprenticeship Levy into a wider ‘Skills and Training Levy’ is right on the money, employers need the flexibility to develop talent in a wide range of areas.

“On the UK’s productivity challenge, the Lib Dems have struck a welcome balance between big picture regional and infrastructure funding efforts and supporting business growth on the ground, from its ‘start-up allowance’, to widening R&D tax credits, to boosting the British Business Bank – all of which IoD members have specifically called for in recent months.

“Going forward, the Lib Dems must be careful not to put all their eggs in the Brexit basket. Directors know that whatever comes next, we can’t be distracted from taking domestic action now to revamp our business environment.”

Read the IoD’s Manifesto on the domestic business environment here.

On the Lib Dems’ corporate governance proposals, Carum Basra, Corporate Governance Policy Advisor at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The Lib Dems have set out constructive proposals to build public trust in business, from the establishment of new corporate forms to the introduction of ‘business purpose’ statements that highlight companies’ social impact beyond making profits.

“Encouraging worker input to remuneration committees could be a sensible step to address concerns about executive pay. However, appointing worker representatives to the board raises significant challenges, it’s not clear how to square this with directors’ legal duty to promote the interest of the company as a whole, which UK company law aligns with the interests of shareholders.

“Equally, the Party’s plans on extending the ‘public interest’ test should be interrogated. The UK’s existing takeover regime works reasonably well so the Lib Dems must ensure there won’t be a negative impact on foreign investment and national competitiveness. The system must be transparent and insulated from undue politicisation.”

Read the IoD’s Manifesto on Corporate Governance here.

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