How do you anticipate the outcome of the upcoming general election will impact levelling up for businesses across the UK?

03/07/2024
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Sarah Walker-Smith
CEO Ampa Group and Shakespeare Martineau LLP

How do you anticipate the outcome of the upcoming general election will impact levelling up for businesses across the UK?

VocL Voices’ Responses

Charlotte Hill
Operations Director, Gripple

An incoming government must tackle the critical skills shortages in the UK, especially in STEM fields, to help boost sustainable growth in national GDP. The scarcity of expertise in various engineering disciplines is inflating salaries and intensifying the recruitment market’s competitiveness. In addition to this, the preference for hybrid working over traditional shift work in manufacturing poses a significant challenge. Implementing a robust post-education strategy to enhance apprenticeships and upskilling programs will help ‘level up’ the recruitment market. This step is essential to bridge the skills gap ensuring that UK businesses remain competitive on a national and global level.

Andrew Gall
Head of Savings & Economics, Building Societies Association

Regional inequalities remain considerable, and reflect some of the national challenges on productivity and a lack of investment. We need to build on what is in place with Levelling Up, increasing the devolution of power to regions, breaking down silos of policy and funding, and involving local businesses to unlock their investment. Building societies see an important role for their branches across the country, and we want to work with local and national government to ensure access to financial services remains on more high streets across the UK.

Richard Sansom
East Midlands Network Director, Cadent Gas

The upcoming general election is set to push power away from Westminster and into local hands, something both Labour and the Conservatives back. This move means decisions will be made by those directly affected, which should help boost local economies, improve services, and help with levelling up. It’s a promising step for businesses and communities looking to bounce back and thrive.

Sion Lewis
Associate, Arup

For any incoming government improving the growth of the economy will be essential to meet their spending commitments. To achieve this, levelling up must be a huge part of any plan. Currently growth is hovering around 0.5%. This needs to improve to >2%. A clear way of achieving this is by investing in national infrastructure be that energy, transport or social infrastructure which, if planned correctly, would achieve the long running and often forgotten aspiration of levelling up. Lets hope we see a clear strategy at the outset of the next term to achieve this!

Matthew Balnaves
Head of Strategy, Agent

The new government must increase the pace of devolution to regional mayors, enabling them to form close relationships with key regional employers and drive transformational developments like the Atom Valley in Lancashire, the Net Zero cluster in the North West of England and Network North, spearheading a revolution in our connectivity.

Justine Ball
Partner, Shakespeare Martineau LLP / AMPA

Any new Government will recognise the need to focus on the levelling up agenda in order to create better equity between regions but also to stimulate growth in the UK’s economy. Whilst other national issues such as the NHS and immigration have been at the forefront of many of the parties’ manifestos, I consider that businesses can expect regional investment to help stimulate the growth needed.

James Egbuonu
Senior Business Analyst, Peasum

The upcoming general election, dominated by the cost of living crisis and inflation, will significantly impact businesses across the UK, regardless of the winning party. If the Conservatives retain power, their existing manifesto will likely persist. Conversely, a Labour government might boost public sector and infrastructure investments, benefiting these sectors in the short term. IT and technology opportunities should see steady growth as businesses prioritise efficiency and cost savings. However, concerns about fiscal management, inefficiency, equity, and economic growth remain. Businesses must prepare for economic policy shifts, focusing on responsible practices that balance short-term profitability with long-term growth. The key for businesses and the nation is care, consideration, and control as we move forward.

Gonzalo Coello de Portugal
Associate, Design and Project Leadership, Arup

“Levelling up” is an impactful idea which has not been well delivered. Funding shovel-ready projects was not the answer. Now Labour promises to devolve more powers to local governments, so business may benefit from the budget administered by regional mayors. The pledge goes in the right direction, but does not necessarily involve new spending, and Sir Keir admits that funds will depend on “growing our economy”. If those limited funds are focused more effectively, improving the infrastructure that connects cities and giving more autonomy to the mayors, it may boost the productivity of business. However, this requires cross-party agreements and a long-term view that spans beyond a parliament cycle.



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