What does UK business want from PM Boris Johnson

With an 80-seat majority, there is little doubt that PM Johnson will be able to get his party policies and campaign promises through the UK parliament without delays. This might be good or bad for UK businesses, time will tell.

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The major concern now for business is;

  • Get Brexit done

Getting Brexit Withdrawal Agreement through UK Parliament, paving the way for the UK to leave the European Union and negotiate a trade deal which will be the focus for businesses.

The prospect of an end to three years of to and fro over the issue is welcomed by the deputy director general of the CBI, Josh Hardie.

“Just the fact that we have a government with a strong majority and a mandate actually provides the opportunity to bring a bit more certainty,” he said.

But as the prime minister’s opponents were at pains to point out during the election campaign, the UK could still leave the EU without a trade deal at the end of next year unless a trade deal with the EU can be struck in record time.

Mr Hardie said British businesses would like see maximum alignment with the bloc, describing a relationship of frictionless trade very similar to EU membership, but the new government has promised an arms length arrangement, with the UK outside both the EU single market and the customs union.

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said Brexit could provide an opportunity for British firms to expand into other overseas markets such as the US, Canada and Australia. But the UK’s relationship with the EU remains the first item on the agenda.

  • Improving Infrastructure and investment

Mr Johnson welcomed the election result with a promise to “repay the trust” of voters in the north of England who swung behind the Conservatives, many for the first time in their lives.

There is an expectation that the previous Conservative government’s Northern Powerhouse plans will get further backing. The Times has suggested the prime minister could be planning to pump as much as £80bn into projects in key northern seats in a bid to cement his new voters’ support.

“The Conservative manifesto recognised the role for vital infrastructure in supporting the economy, from Northern Powerhouse Rail to gigabit broadband.See the source image

“The Government now should go further and give clear backing to HS2 and Crossrail 2, as well as reaffirming support for airport expansion at London’s airports, putting in place the key building blocks needed to enable our regions to grow together.”

That kind of spending may help boost the UK’s flagging growth rates, says Yael Selfin, chief economist at accountancy firm KPMG.

She says “public spending will need to do the heavy lifting” when it comes to dispelling the cloud of uncertainty around an EU deal but it will take more than that.

“The new government must also turn its attention to some of the longer standing challenges facing the UK, such as poor productivity and declining regional opportunities, to help secure a better long term future, while addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by new technology and climate change.

 

  • Effective Immigration policy

Mr Johnson has pledged to introduce a points-based immigration system that would sort migrant workers into three categories.

The first tier, entrepreneurs, investors and people who have won awards in certain fields, would receive fast-track entry under the system.

Meanwhile, skilled workers, such as doctors, nurses and other health professionals, who have a confirmed job offer, would be placed in another category, with those eligible for an NHS visa also receiving fast-track entry and reduced fees.

For low-skilled or unskilled workers, sector-specific rules would be put in place, enabling British firms to fill gaps where UK workers cannot be found.

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But the plans have come under fire from business leaders who have said the proposed policy is too vague and would affect their ability to plan for the future.

The CBI’s Mr Hardie said while a points-based system could work if designed to respond to the needs of the economy, but more detail would be welcome.

Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, the governing body of London’s financial district, said Mr Johnson should bear in mind that services were “the lifeblood” of the UK economy but relied on “attracting, retaining and developing high quality talent”

  • Reform of Business rates

Boris Johnson has pledged to reform business rates, which have been blamed for tough times on the High Street, with well-known chains shutting stores across the country over the past few years.

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But that could take time, according to Mr Cherry from the Federation of Small Businesses. Just a review of rates could take up to five years, he said.

At present, business rates are based on the size of a firm’s property as well as revenues, in most cases.

 

But Mr Cherry said the tax was charged “before you even turn over your first pound, let alone make any profit”.

Mr Hardie from the CBI said the business rates system was “fundamentally broken” and urged “radical reform”.

For many firms, especially in the retail sector, reform of business rates, which they have been calling for for several years, remains the top priority.

Source: BBC News

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UK Election 2019: Is Climate Change a deal breaker for you?

Sian Berry  Co-leader of the Green Party on the launch of their general election campaign said: “Some things are even bigger than Brexit. This must be the climate election. The future won’t get another chance.”

The party says it would fund their climate change pledge of £100bn a year by borrowing £91.2bn a year, with an extra £9bn from “tax changes”.

The party also set out plans to make Britain carbon neutral by 2030.

Conservative party  has already committed to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, a move announced by former Prime Minister Theresa May before she left office earlier this year.

Boris Johnson led Conservatives on his election campaign said they have “a proper plan to continue reducing carbon emissions” which will build on the “400,000 low carbon jobs we’ve already created (while in government)”.

Labour has also set out some of its own environmental pledges, including a promise to cut UK carbon emissions by 10% through a home improvement programme.

A Labour government would fund £60bn of energy-saving upgrades, such as loft insulation, enhanced double glazing and new heating systems, by 2030.

The question now is which party and who do you trust to deliver on climate change and will it be a deal breaker for you?

 

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Labour to fund energy-saving upgrades with £60bn

Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the opposition party in UK Labour pledge to cut UK carbon emissions by 10% through the largest home improvement programme for decades.

He said a Labour government would fund £60bn of energy-saving upgrades, such as loft insulation, enhanced double glazing and new heating systems, by 2030.

 

Launching the policy on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn said it “will create a sustainable energy network”, adding: “We cannot go on polluting our planet.”

The Conservatives said the plan would “wreck the economy” and “put up bills”.

Speaking about the policy – called “Warm Homes for All” – in south-west London, Mr Corbyn said that climate change would be a major part of the party’s election campaign.

“We cannot go on standing by while climate warming increases,” the Labour leader said.

Labour says low-income households will receive a grant to carry out the work on their homes, while wealthier households would receive interest-free loans for enhancements.

 

Households which take out the loan would pay it back through savings on energy bills, the party added.

Labour expects the project to cost £250bn – an average of £9,300 per home – but only £60bn would come as a cost to central government, it says.

Source: BBC News

Is Labour’s Zero carbon election pledge realistic?

Labour is promising to make all new-build homes “zero carbon” within three years, in an effort to curb housing shortages and tackle climate change.

A Labour government would introduce a “tough” standards for new builds which would see homes fitted with solar panels and not having gas boilers.

 

The party says it would save £200 a year per house in energy bills.

The Conservative Party described the plan as “unrealistic” and said it would slow house building.

The proposals would mean the day-to-day running of the new homes would not add extra carbon to the atmosphere.

This would be achieved through better efficiency standards and using low carbon and renewable energy sources, it said.

New homes would not be fitted with fossil fuel heating systems, such as gas boilers, as standard and would have “super-efficient insulation” and triple-glazed windows.

The last Labour government introduced regulations to make all homes “zero carbon” by 2016, but it was scrapped by the Conservatives six months before it was due to come into force, Labour said.

Asked about the added cost of installing greener heating, Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey said it would be a “relatively small” sum compared to the total cost of new builds.

“It’s totally do-able without big price increases,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

What do you think?

Source: BBC News

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

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