Set up in 1860, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) is well-known as the spokesperson for the British business community as regards policy decisions and how legislation at a national level helps – or hinders – companies of all sizes and in all sectors. The BCC is active in calling for change. One of its biggest campaigns at the moment is not Brexit as you might think, but their ‘Fix the Fundamentals’ campaign.
What is the BCC’s ‘Fix the Fundamentals’ Campaign?
Although the BCC concede that the British government’s 2017 Industrial Strategy White Paper was a step in the right direction, they still believe that a lot remains to be done. They have highlighted certain sectors which need to be changed urgently to improve competitiveness, boost productivity and ensure that the UK has the skills and connectivity that it needs. These areas are: costs, people, physical/digital infrastructure and energy.
All businesses are facing more and more difficulties in meeting the upfront costs of running their company. Whether this is because of a temporary cash flow problem or a seasonal fluctuation in sales, this can lead to the closure of smaller firms. Although online credit is possible through personal loans, this can only be a temporary solution at best. This doesn’t solve the underlying problem of how expensive it is to run a company when overheads, taxes and so on are taken into account.
Another difficulty facing UK businesses of all sizes is ensuring they have the skilled workforce they need. The BCC has been highly critical of the Apprenticeship Levy and how it has actually reduced the number of apprenticeships being arranged.
The lack of physical infrastructure is another problem highlighted by the BCC. They believe that higher levels of both public and private investment are necessary to improve road and rail networks and increase the capacity of airports. This funding would ensure better connectivity so that British businesses can access both labour markets and supplies and get their products on the market faster.
Apart from physical infrastructure, the UK’s digital infrastructure is another cause for concern. Not only do the BCC insist on the importance of better broadband connections across the whole of the country, but they have also identified areas where mobile coverage is non-existent or partial. This can play a key role in restricting companies’ access to new/existing customers as well as communicating with their employees and suppliers. Their approach has been to try to mobilise the telecommunications industry and the UK government so that they work together to solve the problem. Another area that the BCC believe needs improvement is a revitalisation of the energy industry. They believe that the entire energy grid needs funding and that the emphasis should be placed on exploiting UK’s domestic energy industry rather than relying on foreign imports. Not only would this reduce costs for all businesses irrespective of their sizes, but it would also lead to a reduction in the unemployment rate.