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June 2017
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Political priorities
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Executive Hire News › Archives › June 2017 › Executive Report : Political priorities

Executive Report : ‏Political priorities

As next month’s general election approaches, EHN asks hirers and suppliers what the next government should focus on to help our industry.

John Freeman, MD of Hire! Freeman, Telford
"My first hope is that we do not find ourselves back in 1970s mode, with weak leadership, over-strong unions running the country, inflation out of control and interest rates through the roof. What we definitely do need is a strongly-led, united government to lead the country through the Brexit negotiations for the benefit of us all. After that I would like to see close scrutiny applied to the layers of legislation that have accrued, and repeal all that are unnecessary.
I would personally like my enforced role as tax collector, pension organiser and the like lessened. For a small business, it just increases my working hours, and on having to deal with the bodies in question, my blood pressure! Also, the scenario whereby my business pays more corporation tax in a year than some global operations in this country needs to be addressed."

Ray Neilson, MD of
Altrad Belle

"Altrad Belle views the future with great excitement. With major infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Hinkley Point, there is a great deal in the pipeline already. It is a priority for the UK, and our industry, to build more houses to prevent prices becoming more unaffordable, and this will be positive for hirers and ourselves. We are hoping to see a government that is positive on growing the economy for the benefit of all."

Douglas Anderson, MD of GAP
"The new government should be less helpful and accommodating to minority pressure groups whose only ‘achievement’ has been to slow the economy and make UK plc less competitive in the world.
An easy example is our torturous planning system. We need a Planning Minister with power to sweep aside the tree huggers and the Nimbys, and instruct the planners to grant applications within three months.
The developed world’s most important asset is its infrastructure. Without it, the health, education and welfare services, and every aspect of daily life, simply could not function. We need a trebling or quadrupling of the infrastructure spend, and a slashing of the time from project approval to actual ‘spade in the ground’, again to three months. Maybe the Planning Minister could do both jobs. Now that would be efficient!"

Neil Graham, MD of The Hireman, London
"What our economy needs most is a period of stability. We need to be able to move quickly in our negotiations with the EU and in our own parliament. We also need a strong and, frankly, credible opposition. Assuming the Conservatives win convincingly, my hope is that the dominance of the SNP is muted and that Comrade Corbyn finally steps aside. We’ve got a lot to get done in the next two years and, if we’re not united and nimble, confidence in our economy will falter. Other than that, the average traffic speed in London is now at an all-time low of 7.8mph, which will also affect growth if ignored."

Carl Banks, MD of P.E.T. Hire, Crewe
"With Labour’s intention of introducing four extra bank holidays, I hope they don’t get in if they can’t come up with anything more creative to help Britain through Brexit. Our leaders need to concentrate on cutting the best deal with Europe on the imports that we are so heavily dependant on. They also need to address cheap imported labour that many UK companies rely on, but who then let the taxpayer pick up the tab for housing, income support, welfare and schooling.
I believe that increasing minimum and living wages are good for the economy and workforce but, in turn, should be accompanied by reductions in welfare for people who are out of work."

Tim Garland, Director, Elvington Plant Hire, York
"Investment in major infrastructure projects and continued investment in the housing market are a must for our next government. It’s been done time and time before and always boosted our industry, but it must be done in such a way that we don’t saddle the economy with massive, unserviceable debt again. The next government has a real opportunity to substantially reduce the ‘red tape’ burden we all face and make our country an attractive place to do business. Do this and the international investment will flood in - single market member or not!
Our next government must also tackle the skills crisis which is really starting to hit home."

Chris Morris, Chief Executive of Morris Site Machinery
"A robust economy is essential for all industry and it was interesting to see the pound strengthen on news of an election, suggesting an expectation of stability - this encourages confidence for growth and investment.
I believe the government’s priorities must include championing and supporting large infrastructure projects, particularly road and rail. I would also like to see this government flying the ‘Buy British’ flag more, encouraging UK businesses to buy from UK suppliers – perhaps not quite Donald Trump style, but all the same re-invigorating national pride in our industrial capability. As a business with manufacturing plants and depots across the country, I would also like to see an emphasis on regional regeneration."

Gary McWilliam, MD of Hire Supply Co
"You read so many articles about new projects and the government’s commitment to its infrastructure promises and affordable housing, but no one knows how it will play out as we start the Article 50 process and our true Brexit. A key focus should be a commitment to the wider construction industry and to stand by pledges, irrespective of what happens further down the line.
Over the next couple of years, the construction industry will need to recruit 36,400 people a year to keep up with growing levels of demand, according to a CITB report, so this has to be a priority. But as far as HSC is concerned, it’s business as normal. Yes, we need to be aware of what might, or might not, happen but it cannot overshadow the everyday decisions that need to be taken to continue moving businesses forward."

Barry Dean, MD of The Hire Network
"Most hirers rely chiefly on the construction industry, so we should consider candidates and parties who will support it. For private sector investment we need confidence and certainty. We should be looking for a government that wants a soft Brexit with a good deal that will leave our relationship with the EC as close as possible to where it is now.
The government wants to build 1,000,000 homes by 2020 but that looks unrealistic without a relaxation of planning regulations. Roads, schools and hospitals all need continual investment, so we require commitments there. We also need some honesty in politics. We cannot afford the NHS and a quality education system without greater funding. These need to come from increased taxation and we need politicians who address that. So, vote for the softest Brexit possible with an admission that taxes need to rise significantly - easy!"

Craig Michel, Director, Paragon Protection Systems/Zappshelter
"The outcome of an election is inevitable for smaller businesses. Supporting SMEs is a popular theme for candidates, but, in cold, post-election reality, this hard-working, employment-creating and tax-paying mainstay of the economy is largely ignored.
SMEs characteristically display dogged determination, and successive governments know they will battle on, working hard, paying on time and providing employment. The next government must provide much-needed support - some real, tangible benefits. Rather than throwing money at ill-established ventures, they must use employment as the determining factor. If a business is recruiting, get behind it with generous employment grants, rates relief and tax breaks. I’m not a betting man, but I’d put money on nothing happening. That’s your challenge, Mrs May. Prove me wrong."

Paul Hay, MD of Trime UK
"Trime champions the use of environmentally sustainable equipment. Therefore, my hope is that whoever triumphs will continue to support the excellent work carried out by the Environment Agency and bodies like the Carbon Trust. With government encouragement, the construction industry, along with its hire partners, has been leading the way in utilising energy-efficient machinery, reducing the environmental impact on construction sites and surrounding areas. The new government will have many pressing issues to deal with, particularly with Brexit negotiations about to begin, but my desire is that the great, green, strides we have made in recent years are continued well into the future."

Tim Smith, MD of Brandon Hire
"One of the positives about Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election is that it will provide more stability. During recent years all companies have had to get used to be being buffeted by the changing winds of politics, with elections here and overseas, and a couple of referendums.
This has been challenging. But having a general election now gets it out of the way and means that, at least for the next five years, we will be able to plan better and there will be less economic uncertainty, which will encourage investment. None of us can predict the outcome, but less austerity and restrictive policies - a more centrist prime minister than we’ve had before (which I think Theresa May would be) - should prolong consumption and growth, which will be good for business. And investment in infrastructure is always top of my wish list."

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