IoD Week in Policy 27 November - 1 December 2023
It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas. We can say that now it’s December. Just. But this week it looks a bit more like the comedown from the Autumn Statement, a lot like COP, and even more like cold conditions are here to stay. At the same time, we’ve been assessing confidence in the economy, commenting on Companies Act reform, taking in competency frameworks on AI, and keeping an eye on the Covid inquiry revelations…
Latest data from our Policy Voice surveys shows business confidence is stuck in a bit of a rut. We measure confidence by weighing up those who tell us they are pessimistic in the prospects for the UK economy against those who are optimistic, and are left with a net score. This net score has been in the negatives for a while now.
UK economic conditions and skills shortages have remained the top two negative issues for business leaders consistently throughout 2023. Cost of energy and business taxes have joined them there. And although the Autumn Statement did provide some wins for business, geopolitical clouds are ominously rolling in closer over the horizon.
Not yet zero
The 28th Climate Change Conference began this week on Thursday in Dubai, where world leaders are gathering to discuss solutions to the world’s climate problems. It’s just the beginning of the 12-day affair, but there’s already some juice. António Guterres has called on negotiators to pursue a complete phase-out of fossil fuels. A fund to help countries which are hit by climate-related disasters has already raised over $420 million. The UK pledged £60 million towards this.
COP28 will be an important opportunity for international collaboration on reaching net zero. We will follow the events closely. Don’t forget to join us for a Post COP28 Business Debrief webinar on the 14 December, which we will presenting in partnership with PlanetMark.
Meanwhile, we appeared on an ITN Business programme, ‘Sustainable Solutions Towards Net Zero’. Presented by Louise Minchin, the programme highlights the importance of sustainable practices and showcases how businesses can contribute to a greener future and work together to achieve Net Zero emissions.
The government has published a draft competency framework on AI skills for business. It assesses what skills are needed to enable employees to use AI in a business setting and identify how national skills provision can meet those needs. The document is intended to provide a starting point for a much broader research project on the creation of a full skills framework.
Starter for ten, or nine: The Labour Party has published a nine-point-plan to support small business. They produced this based on numerous conversations with small business leaders to assess where the real challenges lie. The strategy covers skills, energy security, exports growth, procurement and more. Seems there is a lot of ramping up from the other side of the house ahead of manifesto period next year, whenever that might manifest. Read the full plan here, and our take here. (Roger’s blog)
And from one strategy to the next, the cross-party think-tank, Demos, has produced a report into how to create a ‘purpose-led economy’, increasing investment, boosting productivity, transitioning to net-zero and driving higher levels of economic growth. It also calls on policymakers to reform the governance of UK businesses by changing the Companies Act 2006 and adding a duty for directors to consider the wider impact of their business alongside profitability and returns for shareholders, something we have also been calling for.
The Autumn Statement has now had a good week to sink in, and we’ve been thinking there were a few things missing. Making full capital expensing permanent was without doubt a win. But, we felt detail was somewhat lacking in the full write-up of the statement. For example, there could have been more given to occupational health and training to tackle skills shortages, and provisions for trade were a little light. What else? Read our full blog here. We were mentioned in a House of Commons debate on Autumn Statement resolutions here saying just that.