EEF comments on today's Queen's speech

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The Queen’s speech today outlined the Government’s forthcoming policies and proposed legislation, including bills for an EU Referendum and devolution of powers to cities.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, comments: “The Coalition Government set the UK off on the road to economic recovery and this Government’s task is to get us safely over the finish line. The timing of the EU Referendum must be accelerated so that it does not become a drag on industry and investment, but overall today’s speech suggests that the Government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with business in wanting to see policies that support growth, productivity and jobs.

“It is vital that this focus continues throughout the policy-making and budget-setting processes and we look forward to working with Government on the finer details. But, ultimately, the acid test will be whether this Government can accelerate the ability of business to deliver jobs and growth.”

Specific Bills:

On the EU Referendum Bill, Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, says: “The voice of manufacturing is clear – 85% of manufacturers want Britain to remain in the EU. The key thing now is to get on with the referendum as soon as feasibly possible, and certainly before the end of 2016, so that we can limit the potential fallout for business and investment certainty.”

On the Immigration Bill, Tim Thomas, Head of Employment Policy at EEF, says: “Businesses need to be able to recruit from a truly global talent pool and we need to break out of a political narrative on immigration that threatens economic growth.

“Manufacturers’ ability to respond to and take advantage of new global markets to export and grow is dependent on access to the best international skills. While employers are training new and existing employees what is sometimes needed is a rapid response, particularly when skills are scarce. One way to ensure manufacturers can respond, and do not miss opportunities due to a lack of domestic skills, is to recruit workers from outside of Europe. Restricting firms’ ability to do this is ultimately restricting growth.”

On the Enterprise Bill, Tim Thomas, Head of Employment Policy at EEF, says: “The Government has made better regulation a key plank of its new Enterprise Bill and its ambition will be welcomed by large and small businesses alike. However, what businesses will now want to see are changes that will affect their everyday business life, and not a numbers driven approach that measures success by the quantum of regulations repealed or amended.

“Getting all regulators, in all sectors, to buy into the drive to lower the cost and burden of business regulation will determine whether employers feel any relaxation of the current red-tape burden, and this is where Government must now relentlessly focus.”

On the Trade Unions Bill, Tim Thomas, Head of Employment Policy at EEF, says: “The inclusion in the Queen’s Speech of changes to Trade Union laws needs to be followed by a measured legislative approach. This needs to balance the objectives of ensuring that ballots properly reflect the views of all trade union members, and provide a mandate for timely, specific industrial action, with the unintended potential to undermine the constructive relations that currently exist between trade unions and many employers in the private sector.”

On the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, Paul Raynes, Policy Director at EEF, says: “The Government is right to forge ahead with a strong democratic model that will allow English cities to steer their own economic destiny. It is obviously vital that any new mayors must engage effectively with businesses to ensure decisions are taken with growth as the first priority – the case for devolution is that it will create more jobs, not more bureaucracy.

"However, city mayors are not the end of the story. Local Enterprise Partnerships are spearheading growth plans right across the country and all areas of England should seize the opportunity to be Powerhouses of better-balanced growth.”

On the Finance Bill, Paul Raynes, Policy Director at EEF, says: “Deficit reduction remains vital and the job is only half done. Businesses will question the wisdom of both ringfencing huge public sector spending budgets and then tying the Chancellor’s hands on taxes too – especially if that means the only taxes left to raise in future are the ones that bear down on investment and wealth creation.”


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