By Daniel Hunter

As the 2015 UK General Election draws ever closer, we can expect to see various organisations publish their manifestos, detailing the measures it would like to see the new government implement.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has today (Monday) published its Business Manifesto — ‘A Business Plan for Britain’.

The BCC has identified seven core themes that must be at the heart of any plan for government, to ensure Britain becomes ‘a more confident, more enterprising, and more skilled trading nation’. The BCC manifesto issues a clear call to all political parties to make these priorities for growth a reality.

Retaining the best UK talent and developing the next generation

Nurturing the business leaders of tomorrow, preparing young people for work and investing in the skills and prospects of those already in work are essential to the UK’s competitiveness.

This includes:

Introducing a Childcare Contribution Scheme that helps talented people stay in work — increased financial support for working parents to access childcare, thereby allowing more businesses to retain and develop staff while they start families.

Growing Britain's global trade potential

Removing barriers to trade, building international networks and investing in our export skills base will support UK businesses to take on the world

This includes:

Calling for a more ‘pro-business’ Home Office that actively supports British firms by reducing bureaucracy, costs and delays for foreign business visitors, skilled individuals seeking to work in the UK, and British nationals seeking to renew passports from overseas — thereby attracting the best talent and investment from overseas and helping British firms link with customers, investors and business partners.

Strengthen Britain's infrastructure to reach a world class standard

A world-class economy needs world-class infrastructure, and businesses need certainty that crucial improvements will actually be delivered.

This includes:

An irreversible decision to build new aviation capacity following the publication of the Airports Commission’s report — so UK businesses have the international connectivity for passengers and goods to compete on the world stage.

Drive down business costs and taxes

Simplifying the UK tax system and reducing the taxes firms pay even before they generate a profit, will boost businesses competitiveness, investment and jobs.

This includes:

Freezing business rates for all companies until 2017’s planned full revaluation of premises — plus a thorough review and reform of the broken business rates system by 2022 — UK firms face the highest business property tax bills in Europe, and the current system is at odds with the government’s ambition to have one of the most competitive tax systems in the G20.

Support long-term business investment

Promoting access to finance and backing investors in dynamic businesses will support the rebalancing the UK economy so badly needs.

This includes:

Implementing the findings of the planned Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) market investigation into SME banking, and review restrictions for new SME finance providers — to promote competition in the sector and restore trust, transparency and relationships between lenders and businesses.

Deliver a new settlement for Britain in Europe

Making the economic opportunities of the European trading bloc work for business, and ensuring clear safeguards for Britain against unwanted further integration will be critical for our future success.

This includes:

Securing safeguards for the UK and other non-eurozone countries in future EU decision-making —so that as eurozone countries look to integrate further, a new architecture is put in place to ensure non-eurozone states are not disadvantaged in the future governance of the Single Market.

Place business at the heart of local growth

Giving businesses a greater say in local decision-making will boost the economies of our cities, towns, and counties.

This includes:

Guaranteeing a Business Ratepayers’ Vote on local economic strategy and how it is funded — including a vote on any proposed changes to local business taxation — to ensure that plans for an area’s future have the support and input of the whole of the business community.

John Longworth BCC Director General said:

“The decisions taken during the term of the next Parliament will have a profound impact on the UK’s ability to grow. We need a business plan for Britain, with governments across the UK focusing their attention on creating the best possible environment for growth and enterprise.

“Over the next five years, we can become a more confident, more enterprising, more skilled trading nation - or retreat into slow but very real decline. A Britain built for growth is a Britain where government decisions are relentlessly pro-growth; business policies are fit for the long term; local business communities are empowered; and the machinery of national and local government works with and for business.

“Our Business Plan for Britain is practical, pragmatic and achievable. We call on the next UK government, the devolved administrations, and local authorities to work together and with us to make it a reality, and lead Britain into a more prosperous future.”

Do you agree with the BCC's manifesto? What would you include in your own manifesto? You can email your reactions to editor@freshbusinessthinking.com

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