Growth must be the defining mission for Keir Starmer's Government: Beckie Hart

Last Thursday, people in Yorkshire and the Humber headed to the polls in a pivotal General Election. Like many other business leaders, I was up late, glued to the screen as the results rolled in.

In the early hours of Friday, it was confirmed that the new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, has been given a clear mandate to take the tough decisions needed to unlock sustainable growth.

Our CEO, Rain Newton-Smith, was in Westminster on Friday to represent UK plc and deliver that message to the new Government and the media. Because this is a key moment to raise the business voice, to rally behind economic growth.

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Over the last few years, firms in our region have shown a huge amount of resilience in light of challenging external headwinds. It’s true that the economy is picking up steam but growth of one per cent isn’t ambitious enough if we’re going to raise living standards across the UK.

Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves during a visit to Ocean Gate, Eastern Docks in Southampton, while on the General Election campaign trail.  Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA WireSir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves during a visit to Ocean Gate, Eastern Docks in Southampton, while on the General Election campaign trail.  Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves during a visit to Ocean Gate, Eastern Docks in Southampton, while on the General Election campaign trail. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

We need to use this critical juncture to join forces and get behind growth which must be the defining mission for the new Government

A new Government means a fresh start – but there are some persistent challenges facing businesses that need tackling.

Productivity growth remains sluggish, business investment is lacking compared to our international counterparts and companies are struggling with ongoing labour and skills shortages.

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To turn the page, this Government must get to grips with the long-term structural challenges in our economy and it’s clear that no Government can solve that triple-whammy alone.

Beckie Hart is regional director for Yorkshire & Humber at the CBIBeckie Hart is regional director for Yorkshire & Humber at the CBI
Beckie Hart is regional director for Yorkshire & Humber at the CBI

To deliver sustainable growth and overcome these challenges we must have a new partnership for prosperity. So, with the election over, the real work begins.

Through working with business, the new Government can realise the UK’s true potential, by making the UK a more attractive place to do business, delivering a high-productivity, high-skill workforce and driving green growth.

We’ll need to make headway in all three areas to put our economy on a solid path to sustainable growth.

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Businesses will want to see the new Government use the first 100 days to hit the ground running. That requires building critical early momentum and putting up the institutional scaffolding that will crowd in investment and boost our competitiveness.

We know that public finances are squeezed. But we can still shift up the gears on growth without big spending: through bold signals on the issues that matter the most to firms in right across Yorkshire and the Humber, including a business tax roadmap, and doubling down on our green growth opportunities.

The challenges holding back UK growth are not insurmountable. But they do require close-knit collaboration between Government and business.

The CBI stands ready to help, bringing bright ideas and analysis produced with firms across sectors and connecting politicians with the leading minds in the private sector. The new Government must hit the ground running, working with business from day one to get our economy firing on all cylinders and deliver the long-term sustainable growth we need.

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The election is over, what’s left to do is seize the opportunities on offer and forge a new chapter in our growth story – one to be proud of at home and abroad.

Beckie Hart is CBI regional director for Yorkshire and Humber

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