Prime Minister Theresa May is facing growing pressure to ensure major investment is secured to bolster Yorkshire’s economy along with clarity over issues like immigration in a manifesto from business leaders.
Sheffield Chamber have produced their own priorities for the Government after consulting with members post Brexit - including political stability, remaining attractive to inward investors and developing a ‘proper plan’ to reverse the trade deficit.
They also want Theresa May’s new government to clarify immigration issues, especially the free movement of labour which they describe as ‘critical to growing our economy’, and foreign students which they say should not be included in immigration numbers. And they call for more devolution, but not at the expense of adding yet more layers of bureaucracy and stress that national pension issues need to be resolved.
The document comes just days after The Yorkshire Post used a special Yorkshire Day edition to list the priorities for the region for the new Prime Minister. We sent Mrs May a letter backed by more than 50 business leaders, politicians and key players in the region outlining six areas for action.
Sheffield Chamber is the largest business representative organisation in South Yorkshire with about 1,200 members who employ nearly 100,000 people.
Jill Thomas, president and owner of Future Life Wealth Management, said: “Sheffield Chamber’s position is very much that the vote is over, we need to get on with it and focus on the opportunities, so what are the things we need to sort out?”
The manifesto highlights the importance of political stability stressing that now is not the time to go for another election or even another referendum.
It says: “At some stage (and we agree it does not need to be immediately) we will need to Trigger Article 50 and there must be stability through that period.
“Neither is it desirable that we live with the threat of yet another Scottish independence vote because that raises uncertainty for businesses deciding whether to invest there. The eventual agreement with Europe does need to include access to the free trade area but not at any cost. We must have the ability to develop new trading relationships with other areas of the world albeit the financial passport within Europe is important for ‘The City’”
It also calls for a favourable environment for inward investment and research and development, continued investment in infrastructure and says current corporation tax commitments and research and development tax credits need to be maintained.
On immigration it says: “In our opinion there is a big difference between free movement of people and free movement of labour. The former can only be allowed if the resources are made available in areas like health and education and housing to deal with the volume. The latter is critical to growing our economy and covering big gaps of skilled people in many areas.”
The document calls for continued investment in skills too and applauds the recent moves towards properly defined vocational and academic routes.
It adds: “Colleges need to be able to invest in the right equipment and teaching to deliver high quality vocational education which should not preclude the student going to university to study for a degree. Too many of our children leaving education however are not properly prepared to start down either of those routes.”