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Round-up of the week

Posted on 2nd September 2016

Cabinet gathers to discuss Brexit

The prime minister and her cabinet this week gathered at Chequers to discuss what they want to achieve from the Brexit negotiations.

Theresa May has ruled out the possibility of a second referendum on Britain's EU membership, but formal talks on exiting the international bloc will not commence until next year at the earliest.

Mrs May therefore met up with ministers to discuss their priorities for the forthcoming negotiations and what opportunities could open up following Brexit.

"We must continue to be very clear that Brexit means Brexit, that we're going to make a success of it," she said.

"That means there's no second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door; that we're actually going to deliver on this."

Mrs May added that the UK now has an opportunity to forge a positive new role in the world, as well as to make sure the government and the country works for everyone.

Speaking after the talks, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) praised the PM and the chancellor for making a "strong commitment to an open and global trading future".

Dr Adam Marshall, acting director-general of the BCC, commented: "They should seek to deliver the best possible terms of trade with the EU and with other markets across the globe, and to help firms take advantage of the many opportunities that will arise in the coming years.

"Businesses across the UK want to make the best of the transition that lies ahead. Success, though, depends on having the best possible environment for business here at home."

Dr Marshall added that this means it is time to lower the up-front cost of doing business in the UK, encourage firms to invest in people and premises and "press ahead" with major infrastructure projects.

Many businesses failing to measure productivity 

More than one in three companies don't know their productivity levels, a new study has found.

According to research by BrightHR, a similar proportion also believes this is not as important to their business as their bottom line.

Just eight per cent of firms were found to monitor productivity metrics on a regular basis, while 22 per cent acknowledged it is something they should look at more closely.

A lack of productivity measurement appears to be a particularly big issue in the professional services sector, while the problem is also widespread in industries as varied as marketing and education.

Paul Tooth, co-founder and chief executive of BrightHR, said: "It’s alarming to find that so many British businesses simply don’t measure productivity, and more than this, they are in the dark about the real business benefits of it.
"It goes without saying that the more engaged workers are, the more productive they will be. But employers cannot take a simplistic view to employee engagement."

CBI calls on financial services to adapt to changing times

The CBI has urged the financial services to adapt in order to remain competitive.

Speaking at the CBI Scotland Financial Services Summit, director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said the sector is going through "changing times", particularly in light of the recent Brexit vote.

As a result, it believes the sector needs to respond accordingly, while various aspects of domestic regulation need to be improved.

"If we can do both of these, we can send out a clear signal that the UK is still an outstanding location for financial services," Ms Fairbairn commented.

"Now - more than ever - we need to show the world that Britain’s a competitive, attractive place for financial services."

Ms Fairbairn added that financial services are a mainstay of the UK economy and that steps need to be taken to ensure "future generations can continue to benefit from this British success story".

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