Prospective MP Charlotte Leslie joined Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, John Penrose MP, at a conference at Airbus, to discuss how Government can help manufacturing and business in the UK.
Dozens of local businesses and manufacturers attended the conference, to give their insight into the challenges facing business and manufacturing during the global economic downturn. They were also able to hear from Shadow Minister, John Penrose, about Conservative policies to help business flourish.
The conference enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion, hearing from each of the businesses represented, as well as a graduate employee from Airbus.
One theme that emerged strongly was the burden of regulation.
Stunningly, according to the Government’s own statistics, there have been a total of 34,583 regulations introduced since 1997 – more than 14 new regulations for every working day under Labour.
The cost of this regulation has been estimated by the British Chambers of Commerce at over £65 billion since 1998, and according to the Federation of Small Businesses, the average small business wastes seven hours a week complying with red tape and paperwork.
Tax was also mentioned as a hurdle: In fact, the CBI estimates that as a result of Labour policies British businesses now pay an extra £10 billion per year in tax. In 1997 the UK had the 4th lowest corporate tax rate in the EU; now it has only the 19th lowest.
John Penrose responded by outlining Conservative plans to cut corporation tax and simplify the tax system under which businesses labour, which is currently one of the most complicated in the developed world.
International aerospace giant, Airbus, hosted the event, and the key aim of the day was to discuss the future of manufacturing in Britain, and how we can re-balance the nation’s income more evenly between financial services and manufacturing, to ensure greater stability in the future.
Several employers went further and expressed their alarm that they are compelled to give school-leaver employees literacy and numeracy classes.
Many businesses and employers expressed dismay and concern that practical and technical skills are still not seen as a first-rate route to employment, but that manufacturing still carries the deeply inaccurate and out-dated image of an ‘oily-rag’ industry. The conference agreed that providing more apprenticeships, and support for businesses to offer them, is vital to securing a highly skilled work-force for our future.
Several employers went further and expressed their alarm that they are currently compelled to give school-leaver employees literacy and numeracy classes. They asked why such basics had not been learned in secondary school and why businesses should have to carry the burden of what should have been achieved during education.
However, acknowledging the consequences of the economic downturn, and severe state of the nation’s debt, John Penrose outlined the need for looking to wealth-creation, re-financing the nation, strengthening the regulation governing The City, and measures for ensuring that banks lend to businesses to help them grow.
Commenting, Charlotte Leslie said:
” This was a very valuable conference. The people who know best how business works, and how Government can help support industry and enterprise in this country are not the bureaucrats or the politicians, but those in business, manufacturing and industry. The next Government will not have money to thow at problems, because the money has all been spent. Therefore it will be vital to get the structures right and listen to those who know the day to day realities of working in business and manufacturing.”