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BCC reacts to Queen's Speech and calls for measures to support growth and boost investment

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech opening a new session of Parliament, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“Our message to Government is simple: put the economy at the forefront of your agenda. These are unnerving times for businesses facing Brexit uncertainty, global headwinds and a UK economy in stasis. The Government’s economic plan must be grounded in reality, taking into account the conditions facing firms and the need to minimise further disruption.

“Amidst the ongoing political turbulence, businesses can’t afford for Government to lose sight of its responsibility to create conditions that support growth and boost investment – much of which doesn’t require new primary legislation. That means action to lower the upfront costs hitting firms, boosting investment in infrastructure and skills, and providing considerable investment incentives to companies.

“We’re at a critical juncture in the Brexit process, but the voice of business has been constant and unwavering since the referendum: a messy and disorderly Brexit must be avoided. To avert an overnight change in trading conditions and damaging economic consequences, all sides need to do everything in their power to find a way forward in the coming days.”

On immigration:

“Business is looking for government to commit to a clear and consistent future immigration system that is based on economic need. Firms that rely on overseas workers to plug local shortages need clear detail on the rules for continuing to access these skills in the future. At a time of critical recruitment difficulties, companies need to be able to hire workers from aboard all levels and functions without masses of red tape, high costs or long delays.”

On trade:

“UK businesses need a properly-funded trade strategy that gives firms the support and confidence they need to sell their goods and services around the world. Prioritising continuity of trade for UK businesses and minimising the potential for any disruption in the turbulent times that may lie ahead should be the goal of this government. Alongside that, we need more ground-level trade promotion and guidance to take advantage of the opportunities that new trade agreements may present.

“Businesses are also still waiting for the government to legislate for a long-term Trade Remedies Authority to protect UK businesses and interests against dumping and unfair practises.”

On infrastructure:

“For the UK to prosper post-Brexit, we have to get the basics right, including a fully integrated and modern infrastructure network. The proposed National Infrastructure Strategy must engage closely with business communities to set out feasible measures for improving the road and rail network and boosting the reliability of broadband connectivity in all parts of the country.

“The message from government and ministers should be full-throated support of the major infrastructure projects that our businesses need and that send a strong message to global partners that the UK remains a great place to invest. There can be no further dithering on the delivery of all phases of HS2 and a third runway at Heathrow.”

On devolution:

“Business communities will welcome the commitment to a Devolution White Paper. Any proposals must have a clear purpose, a strong role for business, and a defined replacement for EU funding. Business will support greater devolution of spending decisions when it’s clear that money intended to boost local growth is actually spent on local growth.”

On the environment:

“The Government’s ambition to position the UK as a global leader on the issue of climate change is laudable. For many firms the path to achieving this could bring growth across a range of sectors, technologies and markets. Together with business communities, the government should build a plan for how we will work across the four nations to reach net-zero by 2050, while also maintaining security of energy supply and stable prices.”

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