Why 2024 could be a turning point in UK's economic growth story - Beckie Hart

The new year is in full swing for businesses and politicians across the UK. A few weeks ago, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that he will deliver his Spring Budget in just under two months - on March 6.

The budget will bey a key moment: it could be this administration’s final fiscal statement before the country heads to the polls.

And, with fevered speculation about the potential dates for a General Election, firms remain on red alert as they watch parties of all stripes moving onto an election footing.

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At the CBI, we’re kicking off 2024 at full speed, working away to shape our recommendations to the Treasury. We’ve been talking to members and defining the key issues for UK plc – and it’s clear there’s much to be done to boost the UK’s economic prospects.

Beckie Hart has her say.Beckie Hart has her say.
Beckie Hart has her say.

To get there, firms are looking for more momentum in the economy and greater confidence to invest. Certainty about the business environment is key, and that’s why locking in cross-party consensus, where it already exists, is so important.

Examples include boosting business investment to tackle our productivity problem and building a more resilient economy for the future.

As ever, tax remains on the forefront of many firms’ minds, with businesses continuing to look to Government to deliver an internationally competitive business environment. Making full expensing permanent at the Autumn Statement was a step in the right direction, but we need to go further – like on business rates, where we’ll see a significant hike this year.

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Without action, this will leave many firms facing rising costs at a challenging moment in the economic cycle.

And we have to tap into the full potential of the UK’s workforce. At the Spring Budget, the Chancellor has the opportunity to help firms support the health of their staff – like through making Employee Assistance programmes tax-free.

Here at the CBI, we’re also thinking further ahead – asking our members what they need to succeed in the long-term. In our Business Manifesto, we outline how we can prop up our growth prospects in the years to come. Firms are looking for a new Net Zero Investment Plan. One that can drive green growth beyond 2030.

We also have the chance to solidify our global leadership in tech and innovations, through measures that help scale R&D intensity across the UK.

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There are plenty of shots at raising our international standing and securing a prosperous economic future.

We’re also incredibly excited to welcome a new addition to team CBI – in early December we announced that the FTSE chair and former CEO Rupert Soames will be the next CBI President.

Over the new few weeks, he’ll be working with our current President, Brian McBride, to prepare for formally taking on the role. Rupert has been clear: a close bond between business and Government is absolutely crucial if we’re to deliver the economic growth that can lift living standards and fund our public services.

This year could mark a significant turning point in the UK’s growth story. With the right measures – focused on matters like competitiveness or our workforce – politicians can boost business efforts to stimulate more sustainable growth. In 2024, the CBI will continue to deliver solutions to those problems still holding us back from meeting our potential.

Beckie Hart is the CBI’s regional director for Yorkshire and Humber

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