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Dev-Bank Wales MBO
12 July 2024

New Government Has ‘Golden Chance’ to Support Business in First 100 Days

Business organisations across Wales are calling on the new Labour Government in Westminster to prioritise the economy in its first 100 days in power.

The FSB called it a “golden chance…to plant the seeds of small business growth”, with the CBI saying businesses need a Government which is “laser-focused on delivery”.

Business leaders also called on the new Government to work in partnership both with the business community and the Welsh Government.

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said:

“Congratulations to Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party. Delivering sustainable growth should be the defining mission for the new Government. Business stands ready to bring its innovation, ideas, and investment to make that shared mission a reality.

“The new Prime Minister has been given a clear mandate to take the tough decisions needed to get the economy firing on all cylinders. What firms need now is a Government that’s ready to hit the ground running and is laser-focused on delivery.

“Households and businesses across the UK have shown incredible resilience through Brexit, Covid and war in Europe. With the economy picking up steam, now is the moment to get behind growth. Setting out a positive vision for the UK economy and leaning into our international leadership should be top priorities for the first 100 days.

“Building a partnership for prosperity between Government – at all levels – and business holds the key to unlocking a revitalised pitch to global investors. Through working closely with business and devolved Governments, the new UK Government can deploy the capability and capacity of industry to deliver the connected transitions across net zero, the digital economy, and the future of work needed to put the economy on a pathway to sustainable growth.”

Policy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Tina McKenzie, said:

“Congratulations to the new Prime Minister and Government on their decisive election victory, and congratulations to the newly elected MPs from all parties.

“The clear result of the General Election gives hope that political stability can lead to economic stability and recovery.

“There’s a golden chance in the first 100 days of this new administration to plant the seeds of small business growth, and there are a range of policies FSB hopes the new Government will bring forward.

“These include measures to ease the cost of doing business and support investment and expansion – from tackling poor payment practices by big businesses to their smaller suppliers to reforming the not-fit-for-purpose business rates system.

“The upcoming King’s Speech should include a Small Business Bill to enshrine in legislation much-needed changes to better support small firms and the self-employed.

“Supporting and growing small businesses is good for jobs, good for communities in all parts of the country, and good for the whole economy.

“We’re looking forward to getting down to business and working in partnership with the new Government ministers and their teams – building on how we’ve engaged constructively with them in Opposition. This will ensure that the small business voice is heard clearly and the right actions can be taken to support existing entrepreneurs and encourage new ones.”

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:

“This is an opportunity to establish a new constructive partnership between the Welsh and UK Governments, one which enables the delivery of a shared mission focused on building Welsh SMEs' capacity and capabilities for sustainable growth.

“A key starting point will be to improve the delivery of regional investment so that it delivers strategic and transformative economic development projects that directly address the needs and aspirations of businesses throughout the Welsh economy.”

CLA Cymru called on the new UK Government to act “swiftly and decisively with dedication” to support Welsh rural communities.

Victoria Bond, CLA Cymru Director, said:

“We congratulate Labour on their election victory and urge the new Westminster Government to prioritise the unique needs of rural Wales.

“The success of our farmers and rural businesses is critical to addressing many national challenges, and their voices must be integral to policy development. A coordinated effort between Westminster and the Welsh Government is essential to unlocking the full potential of our rural economy.

“CLA Cymru is committed to working robustly with both Governments to build a resilient and dynamic rural economy that benefits all of Wales.”

Lloyd Powell, head of ACCA Wales/Cymru, said:

“It will be interesting to see how the Labour Government in Westminster works with the Welsh Labour Government in the Senedd to address the range of challenges facing the Welsh economy and society.

“The incoming Labour Government must act swiftly, as the first 100 days in office are crucial for any new administration. ACCA would welcome outline timetables for addressing key issues, such as economic, fiscal and corporate governance reforms. A focus on increasing business confidence through improvements to the HMRC service, encouraging investment – both domestic and international – and supporting small business owners effectively with growth are all things ACCA has raised previously this year.”

Richard Selby, Director and Co-Founder of Pro Steel Engineering, said:

“With Keir and his party heading into Number 10, we really need them to lead for the benefit of the construction sector from the get-go. We need the buy-in into the green agenda that we’ve been promised, and assurances that projects like the Celtic Sea and Tidal Range developments not only move but move with pace. Furthermore, we need to ensure the wealth creation plans promised are actioned, and benefits are felt before any additional business costs are added.

“We also need them to be proactively looking at ways of improving the construction sector; we need to be taking the sector to the next level, not being stagnant, or even feeling like we’re taking a step backwards while the party finds its feet, and its voices.”

Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said it was committed to working with the new Government on the next steps to a homegrown energy transition, to safeguard energy security, jobs and skills and create an “irresistible investment environment” in the UK.

David Whitehouse Chief Executive of OEUK said:

“Homegrown offshore energy is a jewel in the UK’s industrial crown that Government must treasure.

“The Labour party has put economic growth at the heart of its plans, and our offshore energy sector can deliver just that. UK offshore energy companies could invest £200 billion in homegrown energy production this decade alone in carbon storage, hydrogen, and wind opportunities alongside the homegrown oil and gas we all need.

“The people in our sector and investors remain deeply concerned over Labour proposals to impose a further windfall tax and end new licences. These policies, if poorly managed, and without industry input will threaten jobs and undermine the decarbonisation of the UK economy. The details matter.

“Labour leadership has recognised that North Sea oil and gas will be with us for decades to come and committed to managing this strategic national asset in a way that does not jeopardise jobs. The transition is estimated to cost £1.4 trillion, the lion’s share of which will need to come from the private sector. Working together, we need to create the conditions to unlock this investment.

“We need the new Labour Government to follow through on assurances to work in partnership with the sector, listen to our skilled people, and ensure no one is left behind in the UK’s energy transition.”

Paul Butterworth, CEO at Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:

“Congratulations to the Labour party on their victory after a long and hard-fought campaign and to the newly elected MPs across all parties.

“The public have delivered them a clear and decisive parliamentary majority – hopefully they will use this mandate to provide the stability and certainty that businesses in Wales crave. How we revitalise our economy was hotly debated throughout the past six weeks, and it is encouraging to see they have many policies which clearly align with our and the British Chamber of Commerce’s recommendations.

“Closing the skills gap, growing exports, boosting productivity and harnessing the power of digital innovation won’t happen overnight and our hope is that with a joined-up Westminster and Senedd in Cardiff we will see a better working relationship, real-time progress and some united policy thinking to develop the Welsh economy on which businesses can base their investment plans and growth strategies.

“It is essential that policymakers listen to business concerns and that Labour hits the ground running with meaningful action for businesses to finally crack low productivity, put Welsh business on a trajectory to a higher growth future, refocus on fast tracking existing projects here in Wales and invest in skills and infrastructure. Businesses will also want to see early movement on pledges around business rates reform and improving our trade relationship with the EU and furthering other trade agreements.

“None of this will be easy, and our new Government should not be expected to do it alone. If business is to succeed, then our local communities prosper, the national economy grows, and the wealth is created to support our public services improvements. We look forward to working with both the Welsh and UK Governments to achieve this.”

Joel Strange, Economics Consulting Director at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:

 “It’s simple enough to say that business growth needs to be the priority, but the realities of driving up GDP are obviously challenging in the current climate. The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world and the second in Europe and, as a country, Wales has plenty of strengths to build upon that will help make the most of the opportunities that undoubtedly exist. The growth in offshore wind, new infrastructure developments and exciting digital opportunities could all help shape the Welsh economy in the coming years.

“While the Senedd has devolved powers covering a wide range of key economic levers, the direction that the new Government in Westminster takes will have clear implications for Wales and its business community. Further devolution over the course of the next parliament could be instrumental in further boosting the Welsh engine and driving growth across the country.

“The business community as a whole would welcome a period of stability and certainty and to be able to operate in a competitive but fair tax and regulatory environment, ensuring unencumbered access to European and global markets. Our latest Business Outlook Tracker also told us that businesses in Wales are keen to see the new Government focus on measures to support the transition to net zero, further devolution of powers across the UK and reducing regulation and red tape, to support business growth. We wish the new Government every success in addressing these issues and encourage it to collaborate closely with business.”

CEO of Net Zero Industry Wales (NZIW), Ben Burggraaf, said:

“As we embark on a new Labour Government my hope is that NZIW can continue working in partnership with Welsh and UK Government to reduce industrial emissions and make Wales the country of choice for sustainable goods and services.

“Wales hosts a large number of carbon intensive industries, emitting more than 20 million tonnes of climate-warming gases. If we are to support Welsh industry on the delivery of net zero, then it is vital for Wales to secure UK Government funding that is proportionate to the emissions released in Wales, while making Wales an attractive country to invest in. Not only does this include investment into our natural resources and rich industrial heritage but also into our people — ensuring individuals have access to the high-quality skills required for organisations to uptake low carbon technologies.

“We have the opportunity to showcase Wales as a unique investment proposition and NZIW will continue to work in partnership with industry, academia and the public sector to empower businesses to build greener futures.”

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Dan McGrail said:

“Labour’s resounding election victory gives them a clear mandate to deliver their clean energy mission, and we look forward to working closely with the new Government to speed up the pace of renewable energy development, with a focus on maximising the industrial and job opportunities the sector offers the UK.

“There are a number of actions we'd encourage Labour to take in the coming weeks to make clear they intend to deliver that mission. Most notably, lifting the effective ban on onshore wind in England and increasing the budget for this year's Contracts for Difference auction to enable new wind, solar and tidal clean energy projects to go ahead. By increasing the budget as one of its first key actions in office, the new Government can make a crucial intervention to unlock billions of pounds of investment in renewable energy projects, lowering bills for consumers, enhancing our energy security, and boosting UK supply chains and high-quality jobs across the country.”

Sara Jones, Head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said:

“The country has made its decision and we now look forward to getting down to business with the new Government. Retail is an important source of employment and investment in every part of Wales and the UK, and through its scale and reach can make a big contribution to Labour’s policy goals. Finding ways to unlock this contribution over the next five years should be a shared endeavour between the new Government and the retail industry.

“Labour’s manifesto made some crucial commitments for retail, including reforming business rates and the apprenticeship levy, to introducing a specific offence for assaulting a retail worker, and we now await the details of how these will be taken forward.

“With Labour in Government at both ends of the M4, we hope that there will be an opportunity to reflect on alignment of policy making to ensure that UK-wide retailers see regulation which accounts for the cross-border nature of our business, whilst prioritising economic growth but here in Wales and across the UK.”

Robert Lloyd Griffiths OBE, Director of ICAEW in Wales said:

“Congratulations to Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party on their success in the General Election. ICAEW looks forward to working with the new Government to help them deliver on their manifesto promise to unlock stronger economic growth. Businesses throughout the UK need stability and continuity so that they can plan, invest and grow. That is our expectation of the Government and we are ready to support them in achieving it.”

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