Commenting on the Liberal Democrat Manifesto, Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, said:
“Whatever our future relationship with the EU, Jo Swinson’s recognition that working together makes government and business stronger is welcome.
“The manifesto makes much needed commitments on housing and infrastructure – two areas where urgent investment to drive economic growth in the capital and beyond is critical. Business will be heartened by support for HS2, Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, all vital to better connecting the country. However, the UK will never be a world leader in cleaner airline technology if we block future airport expansion.
“Recognition that we need an independent body to oversee the future immigration system is important, as is acknowledging that investment in skills training must be life-long.
“Further devolution will benefit all city regions and business rate reform is long overdue but in both these areas the devil will be in the detail.”
On the Labour Manifesto, Jasmine said:
“While there are some welcome policies here, they are overshadowed by the large-scale cross-industry plans for nationalisation, which will raise alarm bells for firms across the UK.
“Commitments to delivering the HS2 route in full, and leaving airport expansion on the table, will go some way to reassuring business that infrastructure remains a priority. However, this is undermined by the worrying absence of Crossrail 2, which has been identified as a scheme of national significance.
“Reviews of the Apprenticeship Levy and business rates are needed and overdue, as far more must be done to support firms looking to grow and take on more staff.
“It is disappointing to see so few specifics on what the immigration system should look like, beyond recognising that it should be simple, not least because it is imperative that we have a plan for accessing global talent at all skill levels in the future.
“The bold commitment to house building is welcome but there is a real question mark about the impact of wider proposals on the private rented sector, which could significantly hit the ability of build to rent to contribute to solving our housing crisis.”
“The big question now is how this agenda will be funded.”
Commenting on the publication of the Conservative Party manifesto, Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, said:
“When it comes to getting Brexit done, the priority for business is ensuring the UK doesn’t leave the European Union without a deal and negotiating a close future trading relationship with our biggest trading partners.
“There are some welcome infrastructure proposals, particularly the commitment to Northern Powerhouse Rail, alongside plans for airspace modernisation and gigabit infrastructure. Recognition of the ambition of HS2 and that Heathrow expansion has the backing of Parliament are encouraging but business will want to see that translate into clear and concrete support for these critical projects.
“The absence of a firm commitment to Crossrail 2 is disappointing, particularly from a former Mayor of London. The next government must avoid pitting north against south when it comes to infrastructure investment so all UK regions can grow together.
“Scrapping the net migration target and reinstating two-year post-study work visas for overseas students are particularly welcome, and issues on which London First has long campaigned. But the economy must stay open to skills at all levels from across the globe and the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for overseas workers runs the risk of decimating vital sectors like construction and hospitality. That’s why we’re calling for a lower salary threshold of £20,000 to avoid locking out the essential workers our economy needs to grow.
“The pledge to boost housing is a no brainer, but we will not see housebuilding on the scale the UK needs unless it is matched by funding from the government, and conditions are created to unleash further private sector investment and free up more land.
“While delaying the planned corporation tax cut is disappointing, the manifesto contains other encouraging pro-enterprise measures — from tackling upfront costs such as business rates to further support for research and development and entrepreneurs. However, we’ve heard promises to review business rates before and the devil will be in the detail of any replacement system, which must provide clarity for businesses up and down the country.”
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