Gov­ern­ment tak­ing heed

CBI boss An­gela McGowan makes guest ap­pear­ance on Econ­omy Watch

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - by An­gela Mcgowan, CBI North­ern Ire­land di­rec­tor @an­ge­la_m­c­gowan In Econ­omy Watch on July 18, we hear from Paul Macflynn, se­nior economist at the Nevin Eco­nomic Re­search In­sti­tute

It is not just politi­cians in a state of flux at the mo­ment. The UK’S un­cer­tain fu­ture is dent­ing con­fi­dence in the busi­ness com­mu­nity and has now crept into con­sumer homes too. Last week the GFK con­sumer con­fi­dence in­dex for the UK de­creased five points bring­ing the June score to mi­nus 10. Con­sumers are en­vis­ag­ing spend­ing less on the high street with the ‘Ma­jor Pur­chase In­dex’ drop­ping eight points and sen­ti­ment around per­sonal fi­nances is de­clin­ing, along with con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tions for the wider econ­omy.

The Bank of Eng­land last week warned that house­holds are re­ly­ing too much on credit. In par­tic­u­lar, credit card debt is a grow­ing prob­lem — ris­ing by 10.3% in the 12 months to April.

Con­sumer-fac­ing in­dus­tries such as re­tail and hos­pi­tal­ity are now brac­ing them­selves for tougher times ahead.

With UK GDP growth fall­ing back to a mere 0.2% growth in Quar­ter 1, the Scot­tish econ­omy re­port­edly head­ing for a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion and in­fla­tion sit­ting well above the 2% tar­get level, Brexit could be start­ing to have an im­pact.

Busi­ness knows how to work with the gov­ern­ment, so it un­der­stands its con­cerns and pri­or­i­ties. The re­cent elec­tion re­sult has led to a shift in sen­ti­ment though. We are now hear­ing more ra­tio­nal voices emerge from around the cab­i­net ta­ble and in par­tic­u­lar the Chan­cel­lor, Philip Ham­mond, is ex­press­ing a softer Brexit mes­sage.

It ap­pears that the econ­omy might now be mov­ing up to the top of the gov­ern­ment’s agenda where it be­longs.

Af­ter months of cam­paign­ing by the CBI’S EU team, the UK gov­ern­ment has agreed to the for­ma­tion of a busi­ness Brexit task­force.

With the Brexit Sec­re­tary, the Busi­ness Sec­re­tary and the Chan­cel­lor all in­volved, this will be a hugely im­por­tant en­gage­ment tool for the busi­ness com­mu­nity go­ing for­ward. The need to make pol­icy mak­ers and gov­ern­ment re­ally un­der­stand how busi­ness works and the im­por­tance of busi­ness should never be un­der­es­ti­mated. In­deed, there is a grow­ing na­tional and po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tion un­der way about the role of busi­ness in so­ci­ety. Our pros­per­ity and our liv­ing stan­dards are linked to the suc­cess of busi­ness, but busi­ness can­not make a full con­tri­bu­tion through its ex­per­tise, in­vest­ments and ideas to cre­ate a more in­clu­sive econ­omy when peo­ple don’t al­ways see the value it cre­ates.

We at the CBI are com­mit­ted to demon­strat­ing the value of busi­ness and en­sur­ing that busi­ness has the right to be heard on the is­sues that mat­ter.

Brexit is only one ex­am­ple of where the busi­ness com­mu­nity can pro­vide gov­ern­ment with in­for­ma­tion and case study ex­am­ples around pol­icy im­pact.

There are many other ar­eas of the econ­omy where the busi­ness com­mu­nity must have a strong voice and work in part­ner­ship with gov­ern­ment if we are to de­liver a suc­cess­ful and fair econ­omy that works for ev­ery­one. For ex­am­ple, in ar­eas such as cor­po­rate gov­er­nance and ex­ec­u­tive pay.

Fol­low­ing the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, busi­ness be­hav­iour, par­tic­u­larly ex­ec­u­tive pay, has been placed firmly in the spot­light.

Busi­ness must now en­gage con­struc­tively with this wider de­bate about the dif­fer­ent lev­els of re­ward and rep­re­sen­ta­tion across or­gan­i­sa­tions.

We at the CBI are lis­ten­ing to our mem­bers and work­ing with gov­ern­ment to shape the right mech­a­nisms to de­liver bet­ter out­comes in this and many other ar­eas.

One of our CBI cam­paigns known as ‘ The Great Busi­ness De­bate’ aims to en­cour­age con- struc­tive con­ver­sa­tion about the true value of busi­ness.

This cam­paign aims to set out the facts and com­bat the myths about what busi­ness does and the con­tri­bu­tion it makes.

It en­cour­ages peo­ple to give us their views on busi­ness and where it needs to do more, and pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for busi­ness to take part in a con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tion about what it does and how it does it.

The busi­ness sec­tor has so much to of­fer in terms of job cre­ation, in­vest­ment and rais­ing liv­ing stan­dards for both lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and the en­tire na­tion.

Given the pre­vail­ing un­cer­tainty trig­gered by leav­ing the EU, there has never been a more im­por­tant time for the CBI to play its part in shap­ing our eco­nomic fu­ture.

Busi­ness has so much to of­fer in terms of job cre­ation, in­vest­ment and rais­ing liv­ing stan­dards

The Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond has ex­pressed a softer Brexit mes­sage since the gen­eral elec­tion

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