Commenting on the Theresa May’s speech at the CBI conference this morning, Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:
“I think businesses will be reassured by the tone of the Prime Minister's remarks, which was substantially different to what we heard at the Conservative Party Conference less than two months ago. At a time when the UK is embarking on a major political and economic transition, businesses of all sizes need to feel that they are being championed, both in government and by government. Business communities around the UK are well aware of their responsibilities to local growth, to their employees, and to their owners and shareholders - and want to know that their commitment is matched by backing at the very top.”
On corporate governance, Adam Marshall said:
“We have been working extensively with ministers on corporate governance in recent weeks, and will continue to engage on how best to ensure that the interests of employees, consumers and suppliers to major companies are effectively represented at board level. The unitary board concept has served most UK companies extremely well, and should be protected in future. The key is to replicate best practice across the board, and boost the reputation of business large and small in the eyes of the public.”
On corporation tax, he said:
“None of the businesses I speak to are hankering for further corporation tax cuts, but most of them say that high up-front taxes and costs imposed by government make them think twice about investing and taking risks. The list goes on and on: business rates, pensions auto enrolment, national insurance, the apprenticeship levy, insurance premium tax, and more.
“A further cut in corporation tax predominantly benefits multinational companies and inward investors. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as these firms invest and create jobs at a large scale, but many home-grown companies worry such a step would preclude action on the other business taxes and costs that are holding them back.
“Many thousands of UK companies that have seen higher rates bills, the ever-greater cost of employing people and higher prices for key services as a result of government decisions, may take a rather dim view if corporation tax is cut and up-front costs continue to rise unchecked.”
On R&D funding, he said:
“The Prime Minister’s pledge for increased investment in research and development will provide a welcome boost to the UK economy at a time when productivity growth remains weak. However, to ensure that UK firms remain competitive on the global stage it is vital that greater investment in research and development is supported by retention of our intellectual property. If the UK is to retain its reputation for innovation, it’s important that the right conditions and support are given to businesses working in these areas.”
Industrial Strategy and active government:
“Business communities across the UK say they want an active partnership with government to boost growth, productivity, and prosperity. In that spirit, we will continue to work closely with ministers to ensure that the government's industrial strategy has a clear mission, gets the fundamentals right, and helps both places and industries realise their full potential.”