The Scottish Referendum marked the start of a busy period, fraught with risks at home and abroad.
In the UK there are continuing constitutional questions following the ‘No’ vote on Friday. In the wider world, geopolitical risks are growing, with heightened tensions in the Ukraine and Middle East, as well as economic challenges such as a sluggish Eurozone to contend with.
The good news is that the UK economy is on a much surer footing, despite these risks. It was encouraging to hear the World Economic Forum revealing recently that the UK had risen up the global competitiveness rankings and our latest economic forecast predicts 3% growth this year.
With businesses starting to invest again and continuing to create new jobs, the picture is brighter. But, though we expect wages to increase next year as productivity picks up, there are still too many people not yet feeling the benefits of the recovery.
Competing visions for the future of the UK economy, as ever, will be a key feature of the major political speeches of the autumn party conference season. As tempting as it might be for MPs to focus on winning the political race with an election on the horizon, we need them all looking at the best solutions for growth well beyond the regular parliamentary cycle.
Although politicians have next May firmly in their sights, business knows that the next election is about more than that. Choices made in the next parliament will not just affect the next five years, but the next 50. Our manifesto, People and prosperity: The business vision for a better Britain, urges politicians to adopt that long-term perspective, which is especially important in the midst of political battle.
It’s clear that the next government has major economic challenges to tackle: shaping the state to deliver growth whilst balancing the public finances; forging a future economy which unleashes the potential of our businesses to invent, invest, export and expand; taking the difficult decisions to get Britain building; and securing our global future in a changing world, founded on remaining inside a reformed EU.
Our manifesto sets out a package of measures to achieve this including prioritising capital spending, building on the success of the R&D tax credit, creating an independent body to determine infrastructure need, creating vocational A-levels and pushing to complete the single market and support more trade deals. Dealing with these challenges will enable us to make growth work for everyone, becoming a country where people have the chance to reach and increase their potential.
Dianne Sharp, regional director of the CBI