'Making Britain a country that works for everyone'

'Making Britain a country that works for everyone'

Carl Williams, managing partner at business advisors Grant Thornton in the North West, gives us his thoughts on the ascension of Theresa May to Prime Minister.

We congratulate Theresa May on becoming the next Prime Minister and look forward to working with her to build a vibrant United Kingdom.  Her swift appointment will be welcomed by the business community as providing stability and an experienced leader as Prime Minister in this time of uncertainty and change.

Our discussions across business, charities and public services have identified three priorities for the new Prime Minister. 

First, we welcome Theresa May’s statements about making Britain a country that works for everyone, getting the economy growing strongly across all parts of the country and reforming corporate governance. 

An increasing number of progressive enterprises recognise the need to rebuild trust and integrity in businesses and markets, and to support the empowerment of strong local communities and local economies where everyone can fulfil their potential.

Alongside the international negotiations which follow the EU referendum, we support domestic reforms that build a more vibrant economy across all parts of the UK and provide longer term stability and sustainability. This should include increased investment in infrastructure and innovation to support growth in all our communities.

Second, in terms of getting the best deal for the UK in Brexit negotiations, we would encourage a focus on the trade and talent that will continue to support our dynamic economy.  Brexit negotiations need to ensure the UK continues to benefit from the Single Market in goods and services. In a recent Grant Thornton survey, leaders of mid-sized businesses identified this as their number one priority for the government post referendum. 

Brexit also needs to support employers access to skills and talent. Amongst organisations of all sizes and sectors, we are seeing increased skills gaps, with growing businesses struggling to fill vacancies. We would echo many others in calling on the Prime Minister to give a firm assurance that EU citizens currently legally employed in the UK will have a permanent right to remain. 

We would encourage a debate on free movement of people that takes account of the needs of the economy and public services. This should be accompanied by reform of skills and education policies to ensure we develop the home grown talent we need in the UK for the jobs of the future.

Third, given the unprecedented tasks ahead for government, we would encourage the adoption of new forms of government in the UK

  • more open policy making to provide greater innovation and to enable organisations of all sizes to contribute and plan
  • greater collaboration between the public, private and not-for-profit sectors
  • nimble, innovative use of  technology and open sourcing
  • continued devolution of responsibility, accountability and fiscal powers to help provide the right framework for sustainable growth in our nation, cities, and communities.
    • There is an immediate opportunity in how the government approaches the Brexit negotiations, to engage in a different way and we would be very supportive of such a shift.