Saturday, 3 June 2017

The general election in the West Country: the issues >>> economy

A recent piece in the FT questioned whether we are prepared to tolerate a bad economy for the sake of a bad Brexit:
The myth that UK voters have chosen to be poorer on way to Brexit - Financial Times

Meanwhile, in the West Country, candidates from all sides are talking about 'the economy':

‘The Prime Minister has called this election to ask your backing to negotiate for Britain and to enable her to provide strong and stable leadership and to maintain a sound economy both during and after those negotiations.

Torridge and West Devon candidates speak to the Times ahead of next week's general election | News | Tavistock Times Gazette

‘Let’s stop the damage being done to our NHS, to schools and to the job and home ownership prospects of young families. Let’s build a prosperous future outside the EU, taking back control of our fisheries, supporting farmers and investing much more in the local economy.’

South East Cornwall candidates speak to the Times ahead of general election | News | Princetown Times

West Country voters are asking awkward economics questions:
Devon midwife asks Theresa May to justify 'chronic under-funding' of hospitals | Devon Live

And in the meantime there is still that little bugbear of the much promised 'super fast broadband' which would be a vital support for businesses in these parts:
Karen Bradley: Britain's digital economy can be the envy of the world | PoliticsHome.com
Jane Foster on the highs and lows of self-employment, Dick Bruna and life by the sea | Creative Boom
Gov claws back £440m for rural broadband • The Register

For a closer look at the Devon economy, this is what the County's Chamber of Commerce is campaigning for:

Devon plea to 'put trade first' in election wishlist

By HannahFinch | Posted: May 18, 2017

Devon chamber wants prospective MPs to know what the county needs

The Devon Chamber of Commerce has issued its election manifesto – calling on the new Government to put connectivity and EU trade first.The chamber, with 750 full members in Plymouth, Exeter and Torbay, speaks on behalf of around 2,000 companies of all sizes and sectors.

The ten-point manifesto outlines the priorities for the county and builds on the British Chambers of Commerce's own Chamber Network Manifesto entitled Brexit and Beyond.

George Cowcher, chief executive, said: "This document is especially for candidates standing in the county to brief them on what is important for Devon businesses."

He said: "Businesses in Devon largely create the wealth that politicians want to spend. It is therefore essential that those politicians are aware of the challenges facing businesses in operating in a global economy where innovation is creating change at a faster and faster rate and there is increasing competition. It is essential that anyone who is going to be elected by Devon constituents will fight hard for the interests of the county and the wider South West region."

The 10 Key issues for Devon Businesses

1. The Devon economy is large in national terms and deserves national attention. Plymouth is the largest manufacturing centre South of Birmingham and Exeter is a growing centre for technology and science. The whole of the County, from Ilfracombe to Kingsbridge and Devonport to Axminster, contains many thriving companies including global brands, family enterprises and a host of start-ups in traditional and emerging sectors providing employment and generating wealth - all of which need consideration.

2. Devon has not benefitted from the devolution agenda and it deserves to. There is massive potential here and companies need to be given the tools to compete nationally and internationally. A properly resourced Local Enterprise Partnership is crucial to meet business needs.

3. The County needs a stable economic environment to thrive without fiscal and regulatory changes that are disadvantageous and disruptive. Key topics are: stable exchange rates, low interest rates, simplified taxation and reformed business rates.

4. Employees are businesses most valuable asset. There are skills and labour shortages in the County. There is a need for training funding to be maintained (the apprenticeship reforms that will cut funding for SMEs is a real concern), for quality careers guidance to be provided, no cuts to school funding, housing to be provided for key workers, sensible immigration policy that allows employers to source labour needed and training establishments to recruit overseas students.

5. The County suffers from poor connectivity. Current commitments must be implemented and other key County needs addressed. Priorities are:

 Digital Connectivity and Telecoms – comprehensive coverage to match that provided in Cornwall. 
 Road Network – early implementation of A30/A303 upgrade to provide second quality route into the County, local improvements such as the improvements to the North Devon Link Road to cater for growth and removal of pinch points and highway dangers.
 Rail – commitment to implement the Peninsula Rail Taskforce proposal, protecting direct rail services from the County to the Midlands and the North, which are currently under threat, and provision of quality services to serve North and Central Devon.
 Air – promotion of Exeter Airport and local connectivity from all parts of the County.

6. Protection of science and technology budgets to stimulate innovation and research and development.

7. Put continuing trade with Europe at the top of the list in Brexit negotiations. Provide greater support to exporters to help develop new worldwide markets.

8. Building on the success of the Hinkley and Olympics supply chain initiatives reform public sector procurement to give local discretion and improved processes.

9. Commit to implementing existing business promoting initiatives such as the Industrial Strategy and those designed to improve productivity. Also support key sectors such as tourism and continue to promote diversification in areas affected by defence cuts.

10. Ensure continuity of energy supplies that are competitively priced against international competitors. Ensure that the natural advantages in generating energy in the county can be exploited.

Devon plea to 'put trade first' in election wishlist | Devon Live

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