It may be a little arbitrary, but 100 days is a useful milestone for measuring just how well the Lib-Con Coalition is performing so far. Before the general election the Institute of Directors published its own business manifesto outlining the three urgent issues we wanted to see dealt with first. Taking them one a time, let’s see how the government matches up.
First and foremost the IoD was looking for an emergency budget which set out a clear plan to reduce the deficit radically. The government has performed strongly here, making it clear that it wants to cut public spending dramatically and reduce borrowing. We await the outcome of the Spending Review with interest.
Secondly the IoD was keen to see a School Reform Bill, aimed at bringing more competition to the education sector. We believe competition is the best way to produce the highly-skilled workforce that business needs. Again the government performed well here, with the Academies Bill being passed in late July.
The third item on our list was a commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on business. Despite assurances made in the coalition agreement to cut red tape, we are still waiting for concrete action. The Government has proposed regulation removing an employer’s ability to retire staff at 65, but there has been no regulation abolished to offset the cost to business. The ‘one in, one out’ rule is supposed to come into effect in September, we will see then how serious the government is about combating over-regulation.
It wasn’t on the list, but another area which we feel requires urgent action is our ageing energy infrastructure. There is a real threat of power shortages within the next few years and, given the uncertain planning approval process and lack of clear incentives for energy companies, big projects will need to be begun now if we are to avoid an energy gap. There is no obvious sign of this happening yet.