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BIVDA attends CBI General Election Countdown Conference

By November 23, 2023No Comments

Ben attended the CBI’s General Election Countdown conference earlier this week alongside key business leaders and experts. The conference was an excellent opportunity to analyse the state of the British economy and the landscape of British industry as we head towards an election in the next 12 months and included contributions from Shadow Business and Trade Secretary Jonathan Reynolds and the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

These two sessions were undoubtedly the main draw of the event, providing further information about each party’s course for business if they prevailed at the next election. Mr Reynolds claimed that Labour are the undisputed party of business and that an improved relationship between the Government and the private sector would solve the country’s economic woes.

He declared life sciences as an ‘exciting’ market but was concerned about low private investment. It was the Government’s responsibility shape a business environment conducive to investment, an aspiration Labour would realise. There were also pledges to lead a long-term strategy of national renewal, a reform of the apprenticeship levy to help businesses, and to fix the broken planning system – allowing labs, for example, to be built more easily.

A Labour Government, Mr Reynolds stated, would set up a start up scale up review and a comprehensive industrial strategy to outline vital investments. Business rates would also be replaced with a fairer system.

Later on, the conference’s ‘secret Cabinet Minister’ – as described in the agenda – was revealed to be the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who sought to lay the foundations for his upcoming Autumn Statement. In a fireside chat with CBI CEO Rain Newton-Smith, Mr Hunt was understandably coy about revealing details of his much-anticipated speech, but promised that it would positively impact business growth.

He hailed UK business, stating that, we possess the best universities and financial sector outside of the USA and the third best tech sector after powerhouses China and the USA. The Chancellor also named the life sciences as a key growth industry. In order to meet his challenge for the UK to develop the next Silicon Valley, which he believes is eminently achievable, the UK must crack business scale-up. He noted this was much harder than in the previous couple of decades.

Mr Hunt called the UK ‘underrated’ and asserted the need for greater optimism about the UK economy and for individuals to refrain from talking our country down. He acknowledged that the UK has a productivity problem, noting that we are 15% less productive than our German counterparts. Despite this, we have achieved more growth than Germany since 2010, which he attributed to the UK’s outstanding record of innovation. The Chancellor hinted at measures to unlock business investment, which we will explore in a different article.