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Next government must solve productivity problems and make Britain best place to start a business, ICAEW says

Author: ICAEW

Published: 07 Feb 2024

The next government must come up with a new plan to boost economic resilience, end weak productivity and make the UK the best place to start, run and grow a business, chartered accountancy body ICAEW has said.

In a series of recommendations made to all political parties ahead of the upcoming General Election, published today (WEDNESDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2024), the Institute has called for a new vision for a prosperous and productive UK economy that supports businesses in the next parliament, including strategies for planning reform, housing, infrastructure, energy, security and transport.

Following engagement with ICAEW Chartered Accountants operating across every sector, region and business size in the UK, the ICAEW manifesto includes a 16-point plan to boost productivity, which is key to improving living standards.

As part of this, the Institute has called for the introduction of business start-up passports to streamline HMRC registrations, a new overarching strategy to simplify and digitalise the tax system and a commitment to increase research and development spending beyond 3% of GDP. The Institute has also called on the next government to explore a new version of the Growth Voucher Scheme, which closed for new applications in 2015.

The manifesto, which draws insight and expertise from ICAEW members, also sets out recommendations in six other areas, including in skills, sustainability, innovation, resilience, trust and trade.

Iain Wright, ICAEW Managing Director, Reputation and Influence, said:

“Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy, but members – who advise businesses from start-up to scale-up – tell me it isn’t as easy as it once was. 

“This set of recommendations, grounded in the insight and experience of our members across the country, will help the next government and parliament take the actions necessary to make it easier to start, run and grow a business and boost the resilience and strength of the UK economy.”

Mark Rhys, ICAEW President, added:

“Our members are at the heart of running and advising millions of businesses, from the largest multinational companies in the world to the entrepreneurial ventures at the core of our community. 

“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank these members for their valuable input and help in shaping these comprehensive recommendations, which we hope all political parties will consider as they shape their policies ahead of the General Election.”

Key recommendations to boost productivity include:

  • Articulate a new vision for UK industry to support businesses in the next parliament, including long-term strategic visions for planning, infrastructure, housing, transport and energy.
  • Host a national competition to award hub status to cities and regions for champion technologies
  • Establish a National Supply Side Commission to address structural supply deficiencies and investigate barriers to infrastructure investment in pension fund risk profiles and the effectiveness of recent Insurance solvency II reforms
  • Increase target research and development investment beyond 3% of GDP and use the new industrial strategy to maintain this
  • Start a new competition for integrated regional hubs to target research and development incentives for strategic sectors and outcomes in the public interest
  • Equip the Small Business Commissioner to investigate research and development barriers for SMEs created by cashflow / access to finance
  • Introduce business start-up passports to streamline HMRC registrations, integrate with Companies House verification and support banking set-up
  • Reintroduce growth vouchers and increase the threshold for British Business Bank start-up loans to support access to finance
  • Create a taskforce on business banking and equip the Small Business Commissioner to champion the collective interest of the UK’s SMEs
  • Signpost and communicate advice and guidance to investors on changes to DC Pension Funds and replacing established investor protections in the listing scheme with disclosures
  • Provide a roadmap to help the public understand the objectives, operation and performance of each sector’s regulatory regime
  • Establish a permanent body accountable directly to parliament to check that the regulatory regime is functioning as intended
  • Develop the guiding principles for regulators and government, provide effective mechanisms to increase consistency, and better measure and report on performance
  • Publish an overarching tax strategy, including a tax simplification roadmap, and commitment to review tax cliff edges and disincentives to growth
  • Address gaps in digital tax services to improve data access for agents and reduce demand for phone and post services
  • Invest in HMRC to address poor service standards, remove a barrier to growth and productivity and provide equitable redress to taxpayers that have incurred extra costs due to delays.

You can view ICAEW’s manifesto in full here.


Notes to editors: 

CONTACT: ICAEW media office tom.mackintosh@icaew.com or 07866 853841