Wednesday 4 June 2014
Queen's Speech: Ambition is the right one
Giving his reaction to the Queen's Speech announced today, Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said: "The government's ambition for the Queen's Speech is the right one: the UK must become one of the most attractive places to start, finance and grow a business. With our latest Quarterly Economic Survey showing business confidence at an all-time high, the job for today's announcement was to not rock the boat and continue delivering on the reforms to support British businesses."
Commenting on specific elements from within the Queen's Speech, Colin Stanbridge said:
Housebuilding and planning
"The Infrastructure Bill rightly tries to lift the regulatory burden for small builders, something our recent housing report identified as vital to building more homes in the capital. Similarly, plans to relax use class rules to bring vacant buildings into residential use also feature in our report, as the need to bring public sector land forward for residential development. Plans to give other residential developers the option of allowable solutions for meeting carbon targets could also make it easier to build the homes we need. Measures to speed up the planning for major infrastructure schemes are also welcome, but only if they actually cut the complexity that dogs so many key energy and transport projects."
Backing Small Businesses
"The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill finally brings forward long overdue proposals to tackle the culture of late payments, which are the scourge of smaller firms. London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has long called for more support for businesses that see their cash flows hit by larger firms that do not pay their invoices within a required period and we will be monitoring this Bill closely to ensure it isn't a damp squib. Similarly, moves to introduce the legal requirement to review regulations affecting small businesses to ensure they are reduced or remain effective is an important move in the fight to cut red tape. Moves to make it simpler for small businesses to secure public sector procurement contracts are also welcome."
National Minimum Wage and Zero-Hour Contracts
"The vast majority of law-abiding businesses will also favour a clampdown on rogue employers who do not pay the National Minimum Wage, and on company directors who act unscrupulously. It is key to ensure that enforcement focuses on those businesses and individuals that knowingly and wilfully flout the law. Any measures that catch honest businesses up in new bureaucracy would ultimately be self-defeating. Similarly, zero-hour contracts are vital for a successful jobs market, but they must be fair and work for all parties. A ban on exclusivity clauses, which bind workers to one firm, is a balanced way of addressing concerns without jeopardising business flexibility or employment opportunities."
Cyber Crime and Riot Damages Act
"The Serious Crime Bill will rightly strengthens the punishment for cybercrime to reflect the damage caused. Protecting London firms against cyber-attack is vital to delivering a secure environment to do business and LCCI looks forward to working with the government on further measures to strengthen cyber security. After the riots of 2011, outdated legislation (drafted in 1886) badly let down businesses that had suffered when the police lost control of London streets - many small firms went years without payments, with several never receiving any compensation for damaged vehicles. A new Riot Damages Bill that addresses failings and ensures businesses are compensated for more and faster is long overdue."
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NOTES TO EDITOR:
- London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is the capital's largest and most representative business organisation, with members ranging in size from multi-national companies to SMEs and sole traders.
- Colin Stanbridge is available for further comment and interview.