BCC responds to LOTO Speech at Labour Party Conference

7th October 2021

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The Leader of the Opposition is right to focus on business conditions that would help small and medium-sized firms. Businesses will welcome the focus on digital skills, investment in R&D and the need to make Brexit work. However, despite the warm rhetoric, what firms really need are concrete, costed proposals and meaningful detail on delivery.” 

On Skills: 

“The focus on skills, especially digital skills, will always be a top priority for business. The education system must fully engage with firms to ensure young people are prepared for the world of work and are equipped with the essential skills and behaviours - such as Maths, English, digital and personal resilience - they will need to power our economy.” 

“Work experience is a vital piece of the puzzle. However, for this to have the greatest impact business and education organisations must work together to ensure young people are getting quality experiences that will allow them to go on to productive and prosperous careers.” 

On R&D Investment: 

“Businesses will be pleased to see a focus on investment in R&D as this is an area where the UK has traditionally lagged behind international competitors. However, a Labour policy on this needs to be informed by historic difficulties and include a commitment to work closely with business on finding solutions which will truly turn us from a straggler to a leader in this area. 

“Firms will need to understand the mechanism that would underlie the Opposition’s proposals for green investment, and how they will incentivise business investment in the race to Net Zero.” 

On Director’s Responsibility for Long-Term: 

“Firms will welcome the concept of being empowered to focus on long term outcomes and  strategies for sustainable growth and success. The devil will be in the detail, and it would require careful implementation and close consultation with business. 

On Taxation: 

“Businesses are crying out for business rates reform and a focus on value for money. But they will also want to see the full detail of taxation proposals promised by the Labour party. As they emerge from the recovery, firms need to see the Opposition pushing for no more up-front costs to be piled onto their balance sheets and to see a concrete commitment to reversing the damaging National Insurance Contributions hikes.” 

On Brexit: 

“While the focus on making Brexit work is welcome, critical to this is transitioning our workforce without harming our economy, maximising potential benefits from global trade and growing the number of businesses who export.” 

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