Business group demands 'urgent' visa reforms

One of the nation's largest business organisations has submitted a plan to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to "get firms through the tough months ahead and then power the UK’s economic recovery".

Business development to success and growing growth concept, Businessman pointing arrow graph corporate future growth plan

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The Business Manifesto from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which was submitted to Downing Street on Monday, sets out 17 policies designed to tackle challenges such as labour market shortages, international trade and net zero targets.
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People, productivity and government policy

One of the priorities in the manifesto is for the "urgent" overhaul of the immigration system's Shortage Occupation List to make it easier for firms to hire the overseas skills they need at a time when there are 1.2 million vacancies in the UK labour market.The document also says the government must promote the creation of a skilled workforce by offering tax breaks to businesses that invest in training and upskilling.Shevaun Haviland, Director-General of the BCC, said: “With a new government and prime minister at the head of the table, it is high time we saw a long-term growth plan that involves investment in people and skills; supports businesses to adapt and thrive; builds good relationships with our global allies to get British businesses selling again.“People run businesses and businesses rely on people. This Business Manifesto offers solutions, including cost-free options, to get our economy moving in the right direction again.”Other priorities in the manifest include promoting export-led growth by the removal of barriers to international barriers to trade to enable firms to "realise their full trading potential".

Reducing red-tape with EU

The government, says the BCC, must work with the European Commission to reach a negotiated solution on business compliance burdens, particularly over Northern Ireland Protocol.According to the manifesto, the government should also prioritise long-term growth by financing public projects, with a particular emphasis on green and digital infrastructure."As a result of the 'multiplier effect', investing in public infrastructure, such as the HS2 rail link, will have a high-value impact on growth; stimulating local economies and creating jobs across the UK."

'on borrowed time'

The BCC also points out that rising energy costs are the number one concern cited by businesses. It is calling on the government to provide certainty over how the current energy support package will be extended when it runs out in April.Ms Haviland added: “Our research indicates business confidence has plummeted to alarmingly low levels, not seen since the height of the pandemic."The political and economic uncertainty over the past few months, and the turbulent financial conditions following the (previous) government’s mini-budget, have damaged this even further.“We are now on borrowed time, and the new prime minister must step up to the plate. Businesses can’t afford to see government make any knee-jerk decisions that damage long-term growth."It must create stable conditions for businesses to invest and grow, otherwise we will be starting from a very weak base to power our recovery once global economic conditions stabilise."

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