IoD Week in Policy 2 – 6 October 2023

The start of October has already brought with it plenty of drama, mostly relating to trains… we also can’t believe it’s the final quarter of the year. We are steaming through 2023, it’s freightening how quickly the time flies. But this time of year is perhaps the juiciest – conference season, and the focus of this week has without doubt been the HS2 U-turn, a project that was scrapped before it really even left the station. A lot of people are far from chuffed. So, apart from that, what did happen at the Party conference?

Off the rails – The Conservative Conference took place in Manchester Central, a centre converted from an old discarded railway station… how apt. With half of the crowds missing due to train strikes (also apt), and opinion polls looking unpromising for the Party’s General Election prospects, whenever that may be, we felt the atmosphere was somewhat flat. But we kept careful track of the trends and themes: Here’s our news and views from the inside. You can also let us know if you are on board with the HS2 decision in our opinion poll here.

Conducting business – We met with the Shadow Exports Minister’s office in Parliament to discuss our most recent policy paper: Setting a Meaningful Export Target for Britain and other key issues businesses are facing in the export environment. Labour seems to be ramping up their policy agenda, and international trade is certainly an important issue. But whomever claims the premiership next year, we will always have thoughts to share.

Feeling stationary – Director’s confidence in the prospects for the UK economy are stuck at a bit of a low. Our survey data shows net optimism is at -26, with 22% of businesses feeling positive compared to 48% feeling pessimistic. This persistently low mood seems to link to rising interest rates that started to bite in June. Find our full analysis here.

Next week watch out for… 

  • We will be attending the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool at the start of next week. Our Chief Economist Kitty Ussher is representing the IoD speaking at a panel event on growth policy alongside the Shadow Economic Secretary, Tulip Siddiq MP and chairing another event with Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Jonathan Reynolds MP.
  • On Thursday 12 October we are hosting our quarterly Director’s Update event.  We will be presenting our Director’s Update report, which examines the state of the UK economy together with regulation, legislation and government policy relevant to directors. Book a space here.
  • Our next Policy Voice survey will go live on Thursday 12 October. We are keen to hear your views on HS2, sustainable business and economic confidence. We will also include some questions dedicated to our members in Scotland on their levels of business optimism.
  • Also on Thursday 12 October, the ONS will be releasing their monthly GDP and UK trade statistics for August 2023. Given the previous month’s data showed the economy shrinking in July, this will be an important indicator of the state of the economy in the third quarter of this year.

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