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Getting Down to Business with the New Government

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 10 Jul 2024

As the nation held its breath for the outcome of the General Election on 4th July, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) had already made its intentions clear - whatever the result.

It would continue to champion the cause of our businesses, our towns and cities, and our communities at the top table in Westminster.

And as members of BCC, at Bedfordshire Chambers we’re proud to be part of that process. But what do the objectives look like?

New leaders, immediate action

In an announcement on the BCC website,  Director General (DG) Shevaun Haviland made it clear that BCC will remain true to the recommendations it has set out in the past year, including in its own pre-election Manifesto.

She also urged Keir Starmer’s administration to “use this mandate to provide the stability and certainty businesses crave.”

Revitalising the economy is high on the agenda, and the DG remarked that it is encouraging to see Labour has “many policies which clearly align with our recommendations.”

But there is much to do, and much urgency about it. Tapping into sustainability opportunities, in particular, is a pressing priority.

The DG spoke of “a need to see action from day one on pulling together a coherent industrial strategy for the long-term, which places a strong emphasis on harnessing green innovation.”

Unwavering objectives for economic good

The other recommendations the DG focused on – again, those the BCC has been championing consistently for some time – included closing the skills gap, growing exports, boosting productivity, and harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

And on the finance and global trade fronts, the DG made it clear that businesses will also want to see early movement on business rates reform and improving our trade with the EU.

Importantly, the DG also made the point that these recommendations aren’t just about doing right by business. “If our firms succeed,” she said, “then our communities prosper, the economy grows, and the wealth needed to support our public services is created.”

That observation’s hard for any Government to ignore.

The view from Beds Chamber

Our CEO Justin Richardson, for his part, has applauded the DG’s stance, emphasising that Bedfordshire’s businesses are “looking for stability” after the tribulations of the past several years.

But he’s also expressed the need for watchfulness as the Government’s new tenure unfolds, with many unknowns on the horizon.

“In many respects,” he says, “the devil is in the detail, and we won’t see that detail until the new Government conducts its spending review.”

“There’s a suggestion the existing budget could temporarily be rolled over and then recut at a later date; we’ll have to wait and see how spending plans and tax policy align.  Within their first six months, Labour intend to outline a future business taxation strategy.  The positive news is that corporation tax is unlikely to increase this year.”

“This is potentially encouraging in terms of stability, but in any event we’ll be working hard to encourage our members to carry out scenario planning to understand what action they may potentially need to take to protect their businesses.”

Projects, planning, pledging

On the local development front, Justin also says Bedfordshire needs to be pragmatic about the interruption a new Government could represent for local planning approval processes.

The Development Consent Order for the expansion of London Luton Airport, for example, may be held up, and other major infrastructure projects may also be affected.

“These are new times under a new Government,” Justin says, “and whilst that means there will be uncertainty, one thing is sure: at Beds Chamber, and on our website, we pledge to go above and beyond to provide you with news, content, expert contacts, and services that’ll keep you ahead of the curve.”

For more information on how to join Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, visit, or call our friendly team on 01582 522448.

Topics: Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, election

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