Watch the webinar
- John Foster, Chief Campaign Director, CBI
- Louise Hellem, Director, Economic Policy, CBI
- Nicola Hetherington, Principal Policy Advisor, EU Negotiations, CBI
- Ceri Thomas, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Media (chair)
In this session:
Covid winter plan
- Yesterday Sajid Javid set out gov’s ‘Plan A’ to manage country through coming months and a contingency plan - 'Plan B'.
- Plan A has five pillars: 1) Building defences through vaccines and booster programmes, 2) Continued use of Test, Trace, and isolation and free PCR / Lateral flow testing, 3) Supporting NHS and social care incl. flu jab boosters, 4) Encouraging behaviours to prevent the spread of the virus and supporting firms to improve ventilation and covid status passes in certain scenarios, 5) Revised framework for international travel.
- Plan B – if the NHS comes under high pressure – measures might include urgent gov communications, mandatory vaccine-only status certificates used in some settings e.g., nightclubs, mandating face coverings, and asking people to work from home for a limited period.
- Missing: not much on testing capacity and not much guidance for firms in case any of these plan b measures have to be implemented.
- We made significant intervention last Monday on this.
- Two key points: this is across the entire economy – not just HGV drivers, and secondly this is a long-term issue – two years not two months.
- Furlough not likely to solve the issue and is structural – these issues exited pre-covid. Also, large mismatches between unemployment and where the jobs are.
- We think gov need to act right now: including immediately updating the shortage occupation list as well as longer term measures such as skills development.
- Tony delivered speech on Monday on this. Aimed to sound a warning that now the consumer spending boom is tiling off, the government needs to sustain the recovery.
- We also need a laser focus on business investment- have fallen behind the global pack on this.
- Proposals – our four ‘key enablers’: 1) stop raising business tax and instead use tax incentives for those businesses who invest, 2) investment in skills we need to compete, 3) invest areas like renewable energy, and 4) crowd in private sector to create new markets through new regulation.
- UK is in good place but there is a risk we’ll fall behind global competitors particularly on emerging tech e.g., AI and green investment.
- Autumn period is an inflexion point: risk of gov falling back into low tax and austerity patterns but could choose to create a ‘new growth story’ and boost productivity and outcomes.
- Higher investment in the UK could create a virtuous circle of high investment, more jobs, higher living standards.
Budget and CSR
- Three-year spending review which is long overdue but clearly want to be bold on net-zero and levelling up – though have yet to see the strategy.
- Clearly some tension in the government though – PM wanting to make bold statements, but Chancellor more fiscally conservative. Expect Chancellor to maintain a tight financial envelope especially for those departments who aren’t ringfenced or protected.
- Ministers have again delayed the introduction of new border checks on goods arriving from the EU. This mainly affects food and agriculture products – the revised date is 1st Jan 2022.
- Checks would have included new requirements for export health requirements – which have now been pushed back to next July, alongside new safety and security declarations.
- Why? Two potential reasons: gov could be being generous - aligns with announcement on NI on protocol, helps business facing supply chain issues and other challenges in the run up to Christmas - could have seen a perfect storm. But cynical view could be gov not quite ready to implement their own deal e.g.,, is the infrastructure ready, the staff to implement? New processes etc? As well as labour market shortages - do they think these will last for a while yet?
- Guidance not out yet but will be sharing with members as soon as we know more.