What might businesses want from the next government?

What might businesses want from the next government?

by James Pinchbeck Partner, Streets Chartered Accountants

The wait is over and we now have a date for a general election, the 4th July.  Whilst many will have been pressing for and wanting an election, how many of us have considered why or what we really want from the next government? Whilst individuals will no doubt have their own thoughts and asks, these invariably will be unique to them. When it comes to businesses there is probably a more collective thought or ask.

Perhaps this might start with a government that provides greater stability, a sense of direction and vision for the future, one that has empathy for people and businesses alike, with the need for disruption and doing things differently being at the heart of addressing the challenges we face. That is opposed to internal politics and disruption we have seen over the term of this parliament, with infighting and a focus on themselves rather than the people they serve. There also feels like a need to demonstrate more in terms of good governance and embracing the Nolan principles of public life, which are around selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

For many in business there is a real quest for a more stable economy along with greater certainty and growth. With a greater sense of confidence and trust, optimism tends to follow along with the assurance and decision to make business investments and to drive change and growth.

It would seem that much of the challenge of the cost of living has rightly focused on individuals but we mustn’t forget that people run, manage and work in businesses. Therefore, businesses are also impacted both directly and indirectly by the cost of living and the cost of running a business.  Certainly, businesses are keen to see costs come down and stay down, something which no doubt requires a continued focus on the likes of energy costs and overall supply chain management.

Rising costs over recent years, along with workforce and skills shortages, are certainly taking their toll on established, new and scale up enterprises. As such there needs to be a greater focus on improving productivity and for ensuring that our education system, from primary to tertiary and lifelong learning, is best placed to support the needs of our businesses.

Business leaders are also frustrated by poor infrastructure, not least the inability to travel efficiently and effectively around the country whether by road, rail or public transport – we would all benefit from investment in the same.

Whilst healthcare will be high on the list of issues campaigned about and will be on the minds of the electorate, we often overlook the impact on the workplace of people not being able to access and receive the health and welfare care and support they need. Certainly, many a business could benefit from a more robust, resilient and responsive care sector.

Though it may seem an age since the pandemic, we are still dealing with the fallout and there still seems a lot to be done to support communities affected and the lasting changes we face. In particular it seems that many of our vital third sector organisations and the social economy has been hard hit and one which, despite its key and vital role in society, is often overlooked.

We must also consider Brexit as we still seem to not have realised the supposed or otherwise benefits of our withdrawal from the EU. For some this will be around dealing with the challenges involved in trading with EU states, as well as the need to explore and realise new trading opportunities.

There is also the key issues of geo-political challenges and a real sense of unrest, war and conflict around the world. Nor too, global warming and the environment.

Whatever the outcome of the election, hopefully this has provided food for thought. Perhaps surprisingly there is little reference here to taxation and the need for tax reform or changes.