Shaping the regional and national agenda
These are some of the themes and issues our policy team is actively focussing on:
Businesses need an energy infrastructure to keep production lines and technology running without interruption of supply. One of the greatest long term challenges facing the UK is to ensure that UK businesses have access to reliable sources of power.
The UK needs an energy strategy that reduces dependency on overseas sources of supply. That means maximising all sources available, including shale gas, nuclear, and renewables as well as ensuring that energy is used more efficiently.
As we move towards more devolved government, local decisions on housing, transport, and taxation have the potential to radically enhance the business environment – but also create barriers to enterprise and growth.
Business wants regional voices and devolved powers. But what they don’t want is extra bureaucracy.
The proposed Northern Powerhouse, in whatever form it eventually takes, will have to show that it can deliver and not become a cumbersome tier of red tape that strangles our region’s development and subsequently the UK’s global competitiveness.
For UK businesses to compete they need a cost-competitive environment in which to operate. Businesses need a tax system that is transparent, supports growth, and allows them to invest and create jobs. Businesses don’t simply want to be used as a “cash cow” to fund shortfalls in taxation elsewhere.
Simplifying the UK tax system (one of the most complex in the world) and reducing taxes businesses pay even before they make a profit, will boost competitiveness, investment, and jobs.
The European Union is the most popular market for current and potential UK exporters. In the wake of the electorate’s historic decision to leave the EU, the immediate priorities for UK business are market stability and political clarity.
Business will want to see a detailed plan to support the economy during the coming transition period – as confidence, investment, hiring and growth would all be deeply affected by a prolonged period of uncertainty. If ever there were a time to ditch the straight-jacket of fiscal rules for investment in a better business infrastructure, this is it.
Businesses need action to maintain economic stability, a timeline for exit, and answers to their many practical, real-world questions about doing business during and after this historic transition.
A world-class economy needs world-class transport infrastructure. Continued investment in our local transport infrastructure is vital because it underpins economic growth and creates jobs but for too long transport investment has been neglected to the point of constricting economic growth and harming the environment.
For Lancashire businesses this means a fast, reliable, and competitive network that connects the County effectively to our northern neighbours, the rest of the UK and our international markets.
Promoting access to finance and backing investors in dynamic Lancashire businesses will help rebalance the UK economy. However this doesn’t just mean supporting our existing businesses.
Many new businesses – the seedbed of our future economy – fail to get past the starting line because funding support isn’t there or it’s approved with so many conditions that it makes starting a business unviable.
Small firms are critical to the economy’s success. However many of them are suffering from an acute skills shortage which is acting as a barrier to raising productivity and competitiveness.
Preparing young people for work, investing in the skills of those who are already in work, and helping develop the future business leaders of tomorrow are essential to the future prosperity Lancashire’s and the UK.
Small and medium-sized businesses make up over 98% of the UK industrial base. The economy relies on these businesses for employment, economic growth, and the level of tax revenues we need to support the UK’s public services.
If the cost and bureaucracy of setting up and running a small business is too burdensome then we may well find that many of our potential entrepreneurs simply won’t bother.