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Dear new Prime Minister, we don’t need headlines

Sponsored feature | Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID, explains what businesses need when a new PM takes office.

Who will occupy No 10?
Who will occupy No 10?

As political journalists revel in the Westminster scrum for news of what the incoming Prime Minister’s policies may be, here are some thoughts on what businesses need.

We don’t need headlines, we need a long-term plan to support the recovery of the economy over the next few years. While a reduction in corporation tax sounds helpful, business only pay this when they make a profit and few are doing that at the moment.

The move back to paying the full 20 per cent VAT from April 1 has brought a cash drain on businesses at a time when they are facing higher costs from every side.

Businesses have shown in recent years a great deal of flexibility and resilience, but ideally, they like to be able to see the future and plan and invest with it in mind, and more incentives to encourage this investment are required.

Skills is a major agenda item that is not going away any time soon. The broad service economy has hundreds of thousands of vacancies and this is compounded more in Cambridge. As a beautiful, diverse and open city we had more than our share of EU workers, but Brexit and the pandemic have seen them return home and many are no longer able work here due to the service sector not being deemed important enough for them to get a visa.

So, we have to grow our own skills. This is fine, but the skills agenda is constantly focused on science, technology, engineering and manufacturing. Examples of shop workers going to college to ‘better themselves’ and leave is not supportive of the career opportunities the broad hospitality and service sector can offer.

We also need a brave Prime Minister who once and for all will tackle the business rates issue. This is a regressive tax - local authorities retain only five per cent so it has little local benefit.

Support on skills, aid with investment, plans to reduce costs and business rates reform is the detail we wish to see. Here’s hoping.

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