The last 12 months have been complex and filled with mixed messages.
On the one hand, the recession turned out to be longer and deeper than anyone had predicted, finance was hard to access for those that needed it and any recovery was fragile.
At the same time, it is credit to the UK as a collective that we did see some signs of recovery at all and the recession did bring advantages, such as 60-year low interest rates meaning cheap money for those that could get it.
No doubt 2010 will also have its twists and turns. The government that sits in power one year down the line may well be of a different colour from that which reigns at present.
But whoever has control, there are a few key things which I would like to see happen to help bolster the economy further:
- A move away from party politics and for the government to show us that they have the courage to implement some of the uncomfortable measures the country needs to allow us to create the wealth to repay our national debt
- A focus on transferring resources from the public sector to the private sector, particularly manufacturing. We must avoid, at all costs, an economic boom fuelled by financial services, public spending, and a property bubble. We need a more diversified economy
- A moratorium on business regulation, particularly employment legislation so that Britain’s entrepreneurs can focus on growing their businesses rather than dealing with bureaucracy. The national minimum wage needs to be frozen and national insurance reduced if we are to reduce the nearly one million young unemployed in Britain
- Introduce reduced tax burdens to promote business start-ups and growth in areas facing industrial and economic challenges
- Revisions to the taxation system to encourage investment in plant and equipment in the manufacturing sector
- A real interest in regions outside the South East and an effort to understand the social and economic conditions that exist elsewhere in the country
- Businesses to engage more with politicians by getting involved with lobbying organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce
- More engagement with the education sector so that business can be comfortable that young people are being educated in the skills that business needs
Above all, I’d like to see us move on from the current focus on bankers’ bonuses and do what we Brits do best in adversity: innovate, work hard and grow UK Business plc.
Stephen Anderson, managing partner at PM+M Chartered Accountants.