3 November 2023

The British Chambers of Commerce is calling for a business-focused King’s Speech next week that gives firms confidence to invest.   

Latest data from the BCC’s Insight Unit shows investment flatlining. Our Quarterly Economic Survey for Q3, showed only 23% of respondents reporting an increase in investment. Concern over the impact of high interest rates rose to 45%.   

In the face of economic headwinds, the BCC has set out five key asks from the Government in the King’s Speech:  

  • A Skills Bill that helps businesses and workers, and establishes Local Skills Improvement Plans as integral for the long term.  
  • A Trade and Customs Bill, which gives confidence to businesses and prepares it for the digital trade expansion ahead.  
  • The speech should consider how SMEs can benefit from wider technology adoption.  
  • A legal framework to enable the transformation of the national grid.  
  • A Planning Bill for England that gives more attention to business’ needs in the development management and plan-making process.  

These asks underline the BCC’s key challenges for the future – People and Work, Global Britain, Digital Revolution, Green Innovation and Local Economy of the Future.  

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said:  “The King’s Speech should be used by the Government as a powerful springboard to encourage more business investment. Companies tell us they are holding back finance and expansion plans because of the challenging economic conditions. Businesses are also dealing with the impact and uncertainty of global headwinds due to the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.  We’ll only get the growth that benefits the whole economy if we can create the conditions businesses need to deliver an uptick in investment.  Next week’s speech is an important moment for the Government to indicate its priorities for the year ahead.  It’s crucial that a business thread runs through the legislative plans. The challenges ahead for business are clear. These span transforming our skills and labour market, adapting to new trading conditions, driving the uptake of digital technology, continuing the journey to net-zero, and growing our local economies. Companies need clear signals from the King’s Speech that these issues are front and centre of the Government’s legislative plans.” 

For more information, visit: www.britishchambers.org.uk