Mixed reaction from senior business leaders on Queen’s spech

Having secured a majority government at the polls on 7 May, the Conservative’s next term in power has officially started. Signified by the state opening of parliament, which is laced with tradition, the Queen made the journey from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster to reveal future plans.

Darren Fell, CEO of Crunch Accounting, said:

“The new government’s commitment to freeze income tax, VAT and NIC rates for the next five years is great news for our clients, and we really hope that their pledge to relax business regulations is more successful than their previous attempt. The speech put a lot of emphasis on economic recovery, which can only be a positive for freelancers and contractors in the UK.”

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, said:

“The coalition government set the UK off on the road to economic recovery and this government’s task is to get us safely over the finish line. The timing of the EU referendum must be accelerated so that it does not become a drag on industry and investment, but overall today’s speech suggests that the government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with business in wanting to see policies that support growth, productivity and jobs.

“It is vital that this focus continues throughout the policy-making and budget-setting processes and we look forward to working with government on the finer details. But, ultimately, the acid test will be whether this government can accelerate the ability of business to deliver jobs and growth.”

Key announcements for British businesses from Queen’s speech

Eamonn Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:

“Greater financial devolution to Scotland will create a healthier public debate there. Instead of ‘How do we spend England’s money?’ attention will turn to ‘How much will Scottish taxpayers be willing to stump up for our generous spending plans?’ The SNP might then find themselves facing a real popular opposition.

“The devolution plans will hit major opposition from English MPs unless there is a credible ‘English votes for English laws’ initiative. It is well beyond time that the West Lothian question was resolved.

Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays, said:

“The focus of today’s Queen’s speech was on the UK’s future in Europe. This is an important issue but it must not obscure other points which can also have lasting consequences for our country’s future prospects. Some of the rhetoric around the new Immigration Bill in particular is worrying for the UK’s skills base. The government must start drawing a clearer distinction between skilled migration and immigration more generally as the two have very different consequences.

“World class economies are based on world class talent. If Britain is to compete successfully on a global scale, British business must have unfettered access to that talent, wherever it resides. Given the UK’s skills gap, skilled migration is, quite simply, the only way for businesses to support immediate growth plans and fill roles that would otherwise remain vacant.”

Lindsay Whitelaw, CEO of URICA, said:

“The announcement of a small business conciliation is both positive and exciting news for British business. It has the potential to help SMEs who are in particularly bad situations with certain clients, where payment terms have been violated and there is a clear risk of non-payment. Reducing legal costs for small businesses also increases their ability to act against larger firms, so this may discourage larger firms from breaching the Prompt Payment Code.

“In spite of these benefits, it doesn’t address the broader issue that many business owners face. Even if clients meet the 60-day limit under the Prompt Payment Code, businesses that need to invest to deliver orders and grow will find themselves with tight cash-flow constraints. That is especially true if invoices can only be submitted on delivery of work, because many businesses – like in the auto industry – might be delivering projects that run over months, or quarters.”

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