Sarah Glendinning: Time for the Government to prioritise business

CBI's assistant director in the North East says that the decisive election result now needs to followed up with action

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

With the outcome of the general election now clear, it will be interesting to see how business is positioned going into the new parliament.

Most businesses will be relieved that the clouds of uncertainty around the possibility of a hung parliament have dispersed. There will, of course, be hurdles for the new Conservative Government to overcome with such a slim majority, but it’s vital that the tough decisions are taken to keep growth striding ahead.

The economic recovery can only be secured if there is a thriving private sector, so the CBI is calling upon the Prime Minister to create a pro-enterprise environment through action to get the deficit down, continuing to make the UK one of the most competitive tax environments in the G20 and backing the decision of the Airports Commission which is expected shortly.

Equally important to our region are policies to bolster our supply chains and make the UK the destination of choice for manufacturing high-value products. We want to encourage more companies - especially Britain’s forgotten army of medium-sized businesses - to boost exports and investment; to drive growth and create jobs up and down the country. We have a long, strong and proud heritage in the north east and can position ourselves to be at the forefront driving this export growth.

The result now focuses minds on plans for a future EU referendum. As we look ahead, businesses of all sizes will want to see an ambitious, achievable reform agenda that will make both the UK and Europe more competitive and prosperous for all. The majority of businesses want to stay in a reformed European Union, giving us access to our biggest export market and the world’s largest market of 500 million consumers.

We must embrace the spirit of openness – to trade, people, investment and ideas from abroad - that has always lain at the heart of the UK’s success. An early sign will be the new government’s engagement with the European Union and its ability to set out an ambitious, achievable reform agenda for the whole EU. We are already seeing reform progress with the likes of TTIP and the digital single market, but there is more to be done.

Clearly the other major story from the election was the decisive and historic result in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon has made clear that this election was not about independence or another referendum, which business will be heartened to hear.

Firms will now be looking forward to working with the SNP to drive the jobs and growth we all want to see across the nation. The CBI is now looking for the devolution proposals which were agreed by all parties in the draft Scotland Bill to be in the Queen’s Speech later this month.

With the swifter than anticipated result, the new parliament has the opportunity to get on with business and continue to drive the UK recovery. Pro enterprise policies implemented swiftly will allow businesses to get on create jobs and drive growth, and will pave the way for a Better off Britain.

Sarah Glendinning Assistant regional director - North East, CBI

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