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Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce Ltd

Spending Review: Milton Keynes Chamber calls on Government to fix the fundamentals

Posted: 30/10/15 by Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce Ltd

Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce calls on the Government to fix the fundamentals in order to raise productivity, boost international trade and equip today’s students to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.

In advance of the Chancellor’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement announcement scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 25th November, Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce urges the Government to address a core set of issues that are impacting on local firms’ ability to grow and generate jobs – as well as remaining competitive on the global stage.

Whilst the UK economy is predicted to grow at an annualised rate of 2.6% according to British Chambers of Commerce projections, the latest growth figures for the third quarter suggest the UK economy is still in a delicate state – with Q3 GDP standing at 0.5% versus a projected 0.6%, and down 0.2% versus Q2.

A slowdown in both manufacturing and construction was blamed for the weaker than expected GDP print. This is a sign that the Government is over-reliant on the services sector and consumer spending for growth.

Factoring this in its vital the Government put the following issues at the heart of the upcoming spending review.

  1. Addressing the infrastructure deficit that currently exists which includes the delivery of a road and rail network fit for the 21st Century. Furthermore, it’s critical that the UK maintains its energy security as well as upgrading the nations digital infrastructure, this includes both broadband and mobile phone network to address so called ‘not-spots’ that plague too many businesses. The latest World Economic Forum Quality of Overall Infrastructure Report places the UK in 27th place. If the UK is to remain competitive on the world stage there must be a sustained and substantial improvement here.
  2. Enhancing support for businesses that currently export or are looking to do so in the future is vital if the UK is to address its current account deficit. Especially given that the Chancellor is set to miss his own target of doubling annual exports by 2020 to £1trn whilst increasing the amount of companies trading internationally by 100,000. Support must include; access to finance; increasing the amount of students taking a second language; and an education system which focuses on new programmes and qualifications in exports – helping break down the cultural barriers which currently exist
  3. Addressing the skills gap which for far too long as held businesses back in their bid for growth as they consistently report difficulties recruiting suitable staff. Highlighted by Milton Keynes Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey with 50% of respondents stating this. This was particularly acute in the fields of professional/managerial/skilled and technical staff. Impacting Milton Keynes, a borough where nearly a third of the workforce is employed in financial and other business services.

Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive, Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce added: “Addressing these three fundamental concerns will enhance the overall productivity of the borough, enabling it to compete on the global stage on a level playing field.

“To further boost the UKs productivity gap with its G7 counterparts it’s crucial that the Government tackle the perennial problem of skills head on. This will enable firms’ across the borough of Milton Keynes to compete with their peers throughout the rest of the UK and abroad.

“Providing a greater degree of export support will encourage businesses to do more business internationally thus tackling the UKs persistent current trade deficit.”

This is why we are calling on the Government to address these entrenched structural problems which hinder the UKs ongoing recovery efforts, and will over time result in the UK becoming an uncompetitive place to do business and impact on inward investment both nationally and internationally.

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