A Word From Our CEO – 27th Jan

30th January 2020

In some ways this an historical week for the UK with the official EU leaving date of 31st January. However, we now enter a transition period, which will hopefully culminate in an orderly exit on the 31st December 2020. As government officials focus on the best environment for businesses to sell overseas, we at the Chamber encourage all businesses to continue considering the entire potential customer base across the world. The worst outcome from our exit would be to discourage anyone from looking for export opportunities. There continues to be support for new and growing exporters and we urge all companies to take advantage of this support. Our greatest plea to government is that clear information be provided to businesses as different aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement are finalised.

Latest on migration

This week saw the release of the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on the UK’s immigration system, highlighting a reduction in the salary threshold and an expansion in the list of eligible jobs. Although this was a step in the right direction it was disappointing that recommendations did not take account of regional salary differences. Particularly here in Surrey and the South East the lack of recognition of different regional costs could limit access to skills for our local companies. What we are looking for is a flexible immigration system that provides access to the staff needed, without costly delays or red tape. While companies are investing more in homegrown skills, they will continue to need access to migrant skills at all levels for the foreseeable future. At a time of critical skills shortages, the government must be clear about its plans and allow businesses ample time to adapt.

Events not to miss

As always, Surrey Chambers is delivering a series of topical events providing businesses with the latest information as well as the opportunity to network. We are lucky to have access to the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference just 40 minutes door to door at the QEII conference centre in Westminster. This is a brilliant event for business leaders and those involved in corporate affairs or public policy allowing them to keep up with the key developments in Westminster and understand how they will affect UK businesses. Because of the need to be topical the government speakers are always confirmed as late as possible but attendance in the past from key politicians has been excellent. The BCC Annual Conference brings together the UK Chamber Network and the wider business community for a day of stimulating panel debates and inspiring keynote speeches from senior politicians, business leaders and opinion formers. The make-up of the businesses that attend mirrors the economy bringing businesses of all sizes and sectors to the event.

As I put the final touches to Surrey Chambers manifesto it will have many overlaps with the themes of the Conference which cover:

  • Creating workplaces for the future
  • Keeping Britain open for business
  • Meeting the Infrastructure challenges of tomorrow

We are here to make it as easy as possible for businesses to succeed and look forward to our members steering us towards the subjects that matter most to them.

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