Saqib Bhatti MP: the government needs your feedback
6 November 2020: The MP for Meriden spoke with members at an ICAEW virtual roundtable about the economy, the need for second lockdown and the importance of accountants in times of crisis.
ICAEW members called for more clarity from the UK government to provide businesses with as much certainty as possible in the new lockdown, during a roundtable discussion with Saqib Bhatti MP that took place this week. The MP for Meriden agreed, telling the audience that ICAEW and its members had a key role to play in continuing to provide feedback to the government on the support companies need.
The virtual roundtable, chaired by ICAEW CEO Michael Izza, also raised the challenges facing the higher education sector as we enter a second lockdown. Wellbeing and finances are particularly affected. Mr Bhatti said that it was crucial schools and universities were kept open to ensure the continuation of young people’s education. He added that universities would be vital in the economic recovery by addressing longer-term challenges such as productivity, innovation and the ongoing digitalisation of the economy to ensure the UK remains globally competitive.
“This was a really helpful event and a great opportunity for ICAEW members to engage with a local MP during a particularly challenging time for the economy,” said attendee Sean Farnell, Partner at Burgis & Bullock and member of the ICAEW West Midlands Regional Strategy Board. “The discussion was wide-ranging and provided excellent insights into government policy on business support schemes in response to the COVID-19 crisis. As Saqib said, ICAEW chartered accountants have a vital role to play in advising businesses in these difficult times and contributing to the UK economic recovery.”
Bhatti gave attendees an update on the COVID-19 crisis, where he spoke about the need for new lockdown restrictions to ensure the health system can cope in the coming weeks. His experience as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, he said, had provided him with crucial skills throughout the crisis. ICAEW members had a hugely important role to play in supporting businesses through the challenges to come, he explained.
The conversation then moved on to Bhatti’s new role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade. He spoke positively about the recent free trade agreement between the UK and Japan and mentioned that progress was being made on talks with the US. Bhatti said that he hoped a UK/EU trade deal would be reached, though sticking points of fisheries and state aid remained.
The roundtable was organised in collaboration with the Midlands regional team. The ICAEW Public Affairs team is working with regional colleagues to ensure that members are offered the opportunity to gain insight from parliamentarians at a local level and share their opinions and concerns. At this time where the UK economy is experiencing unprecedented challenges, the profession's voice must continue to be heard.
Following the event, members said they found the opportunity to speak to Bhatti’s very insightful and they were pleased to be able to share their experiences of supporting businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few months.
This virtual meeting was the latest in a series of regional roundtables organised by ICAEW. You can read more about the previous roundtable here.