As we approach the halfway point in May the next stage of the government’s roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions (in England) kicks into play on 17 May with the final step due towards the end of June. On COVID-19, the steady but thankfully sustained improvement in the public health picture is beginning to translate into an increased sense of optimism within the region’s business community. Potential threats from virus variants and the evolving crisis in India reminds us that we’re not out of the woods yet. And on Brexit the ratification of the EU-UK TCA by parliament at the start of the month means firms are beginning to look ahead to the longer-term picture. Issues with trade into and out of the EU continue to exist. The scale of the challenge is undoubtedly directly proportionate to individual businesses degree of exposure to the EU – some businesses largely unaffected whilst for others it is extremely challenging.
This month the CBI launched its regional scorecards and growth priorities plans, in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group. These scorecards, one for each English region, seek to support policymakers and business communities to understand the unique strengths of their respective regions. The scorecard for the West Midlands provides a snapshot of the economic and social health of the region, alongside a more detailed picture for our sub-regions. We have also developed a new categorisation tool setting out how they compare to other sub-regions (above or below average), and whether they are improving or worsening over time (gaining ground or losing ground).
Based on this data, the recommendations set out within Reviving Regions and consultation with local businesses, the CBI has also developed a series of growth priorities for each region. It is important to note that the priorities, alongside the competitive strengths and assets we have set out are by no means exhaustive and instead identify areas for the region to potentially build upon further.
The CBI Infrastructure report Greener Miles has also been published. This report explores how the business community and government can work together to reduce emissions from commuting as more staff reduce time working from home and return to on-site working after the pandemic.
The report argues that employers should now take greater responsibility for the emissions created by their employees’ commutes by factoring them into their net zero strategies. It also sets out a clear plan for the delivery of key infrastructure improvements and behavioural changes that together can ensure commuter journeys contribute to the UK achieving net zero targets.
On 6 May the West Midlands took to the polls in a range of local council elections and by-elections, Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the election of the West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor. The CBI team welcomes the re-election of Andy Street as Mayor of the West Midlands and we look forward to working with him to drive regional economic growth. Ahead of the mayoral election the CBI published its Revival Plan for the West Midlands based on member views and we will be working with the Mayor and the combined authority to drive forward these asks.
Future Leaders Network
We have a number of exciting online events coming up in the next few weeks as detailed below, but in particular we are also very keen to secure more nominations for our Future Leaders Network with the next meeting being 22 June. This network is specifically aimed at your next generation leaders, currently likely to be under 35 although the age limit has a degree of flex. We are keen to secure more nominations from a number of areas of the economy which are currently under-represented on this group - manufacturing, logistics, industrial services and universities. Should you have a member of staff who could benefit from this network please contact Sara Tomley who leads this network for the West Midlands and Oxfordshire.