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WEEKLY POLICY UPDATE (3)

Home / News & Opportunities / Member News

Date: 31/10/2014

This weeks policy update looks at the current war of words between David Cameron and the EU over the payment of £1.7bn, progression over plans for a HS3 to supplement HS2, the results of the World Bank's 'Doing Business' report, and an update on Britain's aviation capacity debate, namely Heathrow's increased sales.

Stalemate as Cameron considers options regarding EU payment
The European Budgets Commissioner has responded to David Cameron's refusal to pay the additional £1.7bn demanded by the European Union, by telling him that refusal will open up "a Pandora's box".
Jack Dominik has claimed that no British representatives have ever shown any issues with the fee, or, in fact, the manner by which it is derived in the past.
The fee, which is worked out by a standard formulaic rate agreed by member states in 1995, is based around a countries economic performance, with every state in the economic union paying or receiving ever-changing figures since it came into effect.
The Prime Minister has said that the bill, which has a payment deadline of December 1st, is "totally unacceptable" and he has promised to fight for British interests in rejecting the payment.
Back in Brussels, Mr Dominik has aimed to dispel the idea that this payment was dreamt up by bureaucrats in the EU Parliament, as has been the suggestion of some British commentators: "The UK had two formal possibilities to react", he said, and that "at none of those meetings" did the UK "express any concern".
Speaking at the announcement that HS3 plans are to be explored, Mr Cameron, said: "We face tough battles in Europe because that's the nature of what you have to do."
He added: "I think Britain is best off in a reformed European Union - but you have to fight for those reforms. That means a fair deal over funding, a fair deal over migration, it means access to European markets, but these things aren't achieved without a fight."
Cameron shows support for the creation of HS3 in the north of the country
Sir David Higgins, the man charged with leading the HS2 project, has seen his plans for HS3 in the north of the country given a green light by the Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Higgins said that improved high speed rail networks in the north were, not only desirable, but possible - A view that is endorsed by the Prime Minister, who has now pledged that the government will look to strategise the best funding, delivery and timescale for the development of HS3.
Sir David believed that the main flaw in the original HS2 plan was the lack of connectivity to the north, particularly the north east.
Currently plans for HS2 involve a 'Y' shaped development from Birmingham, with services running to Manchester and Leeds, respectively. The inclusion of lines dissecting the east and west of the north - moving as far north as Newcastle - are seen to be the best possible way of feeling the full economic and social benefits of HS2.
Commenting on the news, Mike Ashton, Chief Executive of Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: "The Chamber welcomes the news that government are showing an understanding that a high speed rail network is wasted unless connectivity is improved across the entirety of the country. Herefordshire & Worcestershire are blighted by poor rail connectivity, both in terms of access to the south east and northern regions. A swift delivery of HS2 and HS3, coupled with the building of Worcestershire Parkway Station, will enable local businesses to be truly connected with regions across the country, which is essential for building our economic future.
Singapore tops World Bank rankings as best place to do business
Today has seen the World Bank publish their annual "Doing Business" report, with Singapore topping the rankings for the ninth year in succession.
The survey, which judges on criteria such as the time it takes to open or close a business, gain construction permits and pay taxes, analysed the conditions in 189 countries, with the United Kingdom sitting in 8th place.
The year on year trends remain very similar, with most of the countries in the top 20 continuing to improve their business regulatory environment.
THE TOP 10
1. Singapore
2. New Zealand
3. Hong Kong
4. Denmark
5. South Korea
6. Norway
7. USA
8. UK
9.  Finland
10. Australia
 
Linda Smith, Head of UK Trade & Investment at the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: "It is not surprising to see Singapore topping the list once again. It is important that people see what markets are 'open for business', especially considering the UK's current trade deficit.
"Businesses looking for more information or support regarding reaching new markets should engage with Export Week, which kicks off on Monday 10th November.  This will give the chance for businesses to attend seminars and workshops, or, if they please, have one-on-one sessions with representatives from the embassies of countries like Singapore and other high-growth markets at the headline event, ExploreExport."
Heathrow see rise in passengers as the perfect support for third runway bid
With the Sir Howard Davies' Airport Commission recently ruling Boris Johnson's 'Thames Estuary' suggestion out of the running, it is only expansion at Gatwick, or a third runway at Heathrow, left as viable options for increasing Britain's aviation capacity.
Heathrow Ltd, the company that own Heathrow Airport, have today released figures from the first three quarters of 2014, with an 8pc rise in sales being the headline number. Passengers are also up, currently sitting at 55.7m, a rise of 1.5pc.
However, the increase in sales and passengers has not been reflected on balance sheets. Profits have fallen to £58m, largely down to the one-off gain registered for the sale of Stansted last year.
Commenting, Jack Stephens, Policy Advisor at the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: "The Chamber expressed its support for expansion at Heathrow Airport being, not only economically viable, but politically deliverable and the best option on the table for businesses in the local area. With HS2 looking increasingly likely, local businesses will be able to access flights to the worlds fastest growing economies with regularity, which is essential if we are to close our increasing trade deficit.
"That withstanding, our support for Heathrow as the UK's hub airport does not mean we do not support expansion at Birmingham Airport. Birmingham is currently not running at full capacity, and expansion would bring huge economic benefits to the area and local businesses."
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