Regional chamber of commerce reveals five priority areas for next Government

West & North Yorkshire Chamber Commerce has today set out a five-point plan for the region’s economy, ahead of the forthcoming General Election.

Following the publication of the main political parties’ manifestos and ahead of the poll on July 4, the chamber has set out five areas of action that can boost Yorkshire’s economy.

These take in infrastructure, skills, devolution and the hospitality sector.

The chamber stresses that underpinning all these individual action points is a need for the next government to create a climate of stability for business that allows them to grow, invest and create jobs.

With umbrella organisation British Chamber of Commerce having published its national manifesto, West & North Yorkshire Chamber explained it wished to produce a “hyper-local” version that spoke to the region’s key requirements for economic growth.

Specifically, the chamber is calling for the following changes on its five priority areas:

  1. Stability: Businesses need the next Government to foster a pro-growth culture for start-ups, scale ups and any business wanting to create jobs, economic prosperity and export opportunities. A climate of stability will give firms the confidence to carry out these measures and generate wealth for the region.
  2. Infrastructure: The chamber calls upon the next government to commit to improved connectivity between the east and west of the North of England, both by rail and by road. Specifically, it wants to see firm commitments to build Northern Powerhouse Rail in full and to the duelling of the A64. In addition, it wants to see a firm commitment to a new through station for Bradford.
  3. Skills and digital: The chamber says this remains the number one issue businesses tell it they are facing, with 66% of firms saying they struggle with recruitment and retention of staff. On education, the curriculum currently in use is more than a decade old and contains no mention of the tools that will shape the future such as cyber security and artificial intelligence. The chamber argues this needs to change. Similarly, adults in need of upskilling require simpler access to apprenticeships and module learning. Much of these areas are already being addressed through the Local Skills Improvement Plans which chambers of commerce are administering nationally. The chamber wants the LSIP programme to be extended beyond 2025.
  4. Devolution: The chamber would like to see its two Mayoral Combined Authorities handed greater controls over areas such as health and taxation, ensuring key decisions are made by those who know the region best. It notes this model has been successfully rolled out in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and should be replicated in its own region.
  5. Backing for the hospitality sector: As the first sector to close and the last to reopen during the pandemic, the chamber has urged greater support for this sector. It has again called for a reduction in VAT. It would also like to see further action taken to lessen the burden of energy bills and to explore the possibility of adding the sector to the Shortage Occupation List to assist with the ongoing crisis around staffing.

Mark Casci, head of policy at West & North Yorkshire Chamber, said: “With the election campaign now in full swing, it is vital all parties harness the power of the North of England and recognise its potential to empower economic growth.

“The measures laid out in our five-point manifesto will not only benefit Yorkshire but the whole country, creating a sustainable and growing economy that can fund much needed reform for the public sector.

“Unlocking the potential of the North of England has been talked about for many years and this election campaign presents the perfect opportunity to commit to reform that can deliver opportunity more evenly around the country.”