UK businesses broadly welcome Government agenda

Business leaders in the UK have reacted favourably to the new government's legislative agenda outlined in the Queen's Speech but remain anxious to discover the detail of many of the proposals.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
The post-Brexit immigration system, the future arrangements for the financial sector with the EU, and the government's promise of free trade deals are among the areas where businesses are seeking more clarity.In a statement, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the government’s plans would give businesses encouragement "but the real test will be in the detail that follows".The BCC added, “Campaign slogans (about Brexit) need to give way to real detail on our future relationship with our largest and nearest trading partner. Companies across the UK want clear answers to their many unanswered questions, and a guarantee that costly ‘cliff edges’ will be avoided."Businesses need clarity on global trading relationships and the time to implement the practical changes necessary to thrive under an independent trading policy.“At a time of critical recruitment shortages, an Immigration Bill that allows businesses throughout the UK to recruit staff at all skill levels cannot be delivered soon enough. Government should waste no time in providing detail on the proposed points-based system, and must not lumber firms with costly delays or red tape."Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said the organisation's HR members were looking forward to working with ministers to develop "a flexible, fair and user-friendly, point-based immigration system".Mr Willmott said, “It is important this new immigration system has the flexibility to enable employers to employ both skilled and unskilled migrant workers when they have been unable to find the people and skills they need despite their best efforts to recruit and train UK-born workers.”On the plan to create a £3 billion National Skills Fund, Mr Willmott suggested it could "go some way towards providing the necessary investment in lifelong learning which is such a key issue given our ageing workforce and the growing impact of new technology on employment and jobs".Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said government commitments to kick-start the economy and deliver a Brexit that protects the prosperity of the whole of the UK, could be a catalyst for rebuilding confidence and investment.“Firms are desperate to deliver the investment and growth needed to level up the country. The burden of business rates weighs too heavily on many sectors - a review into them must be consultative, ambitious and wide ranging.“To realise the true potential of enterprise in the UK, action is needed on many fronts. It was good to hear warm words on the situation in Stormont, immigration, innovation, education, infrastructure and the critical issue of de-carbonising our economy. Now the government needs to work with business to deliver the detail."Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, said there was much in the proposals that industry would welcome, especially proposals intended to boost productivity.“In particular, industry will welcome plans to boost R&D, infrastructure investment and skills which is a critical factor for manufacturers right across the UK," he said."Plans for a new points-based immigration must support the skills agenda, however, by ensuring that companies are able to have access to the brightest and best from around the globe.“It’s clear from the range of measures proposed that the new government has a bold programme at home and towards re-shaping the role of the UK overseas. Industry stands ready to work in partnership to ensure that the vision to improve the growth prospects of every region of the UK is met.”Julian David, CEO of the techUK lobby group, said the sector was "delighted" the Queen’s Speech recognised the need for investment in R&D and skills to boost productivity and prosperity."Investment in public services and the environment were central themes in this Queen’s Speech and the UK’s tech sector will undoubtedly play a central role in achieving these ambitions to ensure the UK is fighting fit in the 21st century," he said.“techUK looks forward to working with the prime minister and our members to use technology with purpose to make things better for people, society, economy and our planet.”

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