Britain’s next Prime Minister must act immediately to address Britain’s looming energy bill crisis and follow up with bold action on childcare costs, public transport fares, housing and skills if the capital and the country are to return to economic growth, according to one of London’s leading business groups.
In a six point Manifesto for the new Prime Minister, BusinessLDN, formerly known as London First, says the government should introduce a “system of direct payments” to help businesses and households cope with soaring energy costs with “the most vulnerable” receiving the most help while at the same time “creating incentives to reduce energy use” and also “commit to the roll out of an ambitious retrofit programme” to improve energy efficiency, which would create green jobs and aid progress towards net zero targets.
BusinessLDN, which represents some of the capital’s largest employers and many of its universities, is also seeking “a more radical approach” to rail fares, with increases kept “well below inflation to support the reestablishment of demand”, saying it is “not possible” to bring about “a shift to public transport by increasing costs and making services less frequent”. The group also seeks a reform of the current fares system, which it considers inefficient and too complex.
The manifesto also repeats the group’s long-standing plea for a “sustainable funding deal for Transport for London” to help the capital’s economy “continue towards recovery”. TfL’s board is set to again consider whether it should accept the government’s latest proposed funding settlement when it meets next Tuesday, 30 August.
On childcare, the manifesto states that its high cost and limited availability “are a barrier to returning to the workplace or working flexibility” at a time of skills shortages and cost of living concerns, and urges expansion of free provision to cover one and two-year-olds. Reforms to the apprenticeship system, re-skilling of people of all ages and a better alignment of skills and welfare systems to encourage job seekers to take up training are also advocated.
Finally, the manifesto underlines that a shortage of affordable housing is “a long-standing, systemic issue in the capital” and says this should be tackled with substantially larger government funds for affordable home-building in London and government working “swiftly with the private sector” to create “new models for investment” in homes below market prices, along with removing planning system barriers to development.
The BusinessLDN document is released with opinion polls continuing to suggest that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to likely to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and therefore as PM on 5 September.
During her campaign to secure selection by the estimated 160,000 Conservative Party members, Truss has asserted that “when London does well, the country does well” but placed heavy emphasis on introducing tax cuts rather than public investment as the best way to stimulate economic recovery. She has recently hinted that extra cost of living help would be provided if she won the selection vote but has yet to supply any detail.
Photograph from BusinessLDN website.
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