Business reacts to Boris Johnson’s general election landslide win

Boris Johnson

Following Boris Johnson’s majority win overnight we are gathering the business reaction to the news of his general election win.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Congratulations to Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. After three years of gridlock, the Prime Minister has a clear mandate to govern. Businesses across the UK urge him to use it to rebuild confidence in our economy and break the cycle of uncertainty.

“Employers share the Prime Minister’s optimism for the UK and are ready to play a leading role. They can bring the innovation, investment and jobs for a new era of inclusive growth. The biggest issues of our times – from tackling climate change to reskilling the workforce for new technologies – can only be delivered through real partnership between government and business.

“The starting point must be rebuilding business confidence, and early reassurance on Brexit will be vital. Firms will continue to do all they can to prepare for Brexit, but will want to know they won’t face another no deal cliff-edge next year. Pro-enterprise policies on immigration, infrastructure, innovation and skills, will help relaunch the UK on the world stage.

“Despite recent challenges, the UK remains a great place to start and build a business. A new contract between enterprise and government can make the UK a global magnet for investment, powering higher productivity and living standards across the UK.”

Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, said: “At a time when the economy needs stability, APSCo welcomes the certainty that this General Election result offers. The Conservatives are celebrating a scale of success beyond what even their most optimistic supporters anticipated. Through positioning themselves as the only party willing or able to deliver the UK’s exit from Europe, they have gained seats across the North and regions – and we hope that a strong majority government will finally mark the end of the damaging Brexit deadlock. However, we are somewhat concerned that the Conservatives have drawn a line in the sand and confirmed that they will not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020. We believe this increases the risk of no free trade agreement – effectively creating a ‘no deal’ scenario – which will not be favoured by the majority of our members.”

“Although not mentioned in the party’s manifesto, since the document was published, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid has promised a review of how the Government could further help the self-employed, adding that ‘one thing in particular’ he wants to look at is the proposed changes to IR35. We welcome this commitment whole-heartedly. Indeed, in APSCo’s own manifesto, we have called for a rethink on off-payroll working in the private sector, which we believe should, at least, be delayed pending completion of an assessment on employment status.”

“In terms of future migration policy, our members will welcome the Government’s commitment to ‘attract the best and brightest from all over the world’. Although an ‘Australian-style’ points-based system would, in theory, remove barriers for highly skilled professionals, APSCo maintains that we need a system which is sufficiently flexible to enable those without a permanent job offer to live and work in the UK. In our own manifesto, we have called for a dedicated visa route as part of the future skills-based immigration system, through which highly skilled contractors from overseas can come and support British businesses.”

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented:  “SMEs are the backbone of our economy, accounting for 99% of all British business, and contributing a combined £2tn in annual turnover. However, too often they’re resigned to being little more than an afterthought for government.

“It is absolutely vital that small business owners and self-employed people are not left behind in this new era of leadership. We urge Boris Johnson and his party to make small businesses a priority and to support the nation’s self-employed workforce.

“The standard rate of business tax is at its highest level since 1990, at over 50%, and is a major issue for businesses across all sectors of the economy, so a review of rates will be well received. While the proposed £320m cut from 2020-2021 sounds promising, it equates to just 0.03% from April 2021. It’s a start, but we know rate cuts will need to go much further and deeper to have meaningful impact.

“Elsewhere in the manifesto, expanding start-up loans, increasing the employment allowance for small businesses, and clamping down on late payments will all be welcome changes should they come to fruition.

Director of RIFT Research and Development Ltd, Sarah Collins, commented: “The political landscape is now more certain than it’s been since 2015 and the Government’s stance on tax reliefs such as R&D tax credit will, we trust, continue. Over £4bn in such support is provided each year in addition to SEIS/EIS and Entrepreneur’s Tax Relief and this, in our view, helps fuel the economy and stimulate British business. Something that is much needed given the turmoil endured over the last few years.”

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented: “Forget political alignments for the minute, as we finally have a sense of certainty on which we can move forward as a nation, and while the curtain is far from falling on the rollercoaster that has been our European departure, we should see a fair degree of positive property market stimulation as we enter into next year.

The sluggish one percent annual rates of house price growth that have plagued the market for the last few years should now give way to a far healthier three to four percent.

It may take time to reverse the more negative trends we’ve seen across London, however prime central London, in particular, should now lead the way with some very healthy levels of activity and price growth. That is, of course, provided the unnecessary attack on foreign investment in the form of a 3% hike in stamp duty is reneged upon, as this would be a poor way to repay those that have kept the market’s head above water by way of a consistent level of investment during some otherwise tough times.”

Founder and CEO of Stone Real Estate, Michael Stone, commented: “While the Government’s track record of late has been fairly admirable with some 241,000 new homes delivered this year, there’s always room for improvement, and now the election dust has settled we should hopefully see an unhindered route to delivery and a positive impact on social housing given that it is linked via S106 agreements.

We’ve seen many big housebuilders operate on a more hands-off basis of late, largely due to a lower rate of house price growth and a fear of financial underperformance in tough market conditions. However, the new build sector has actually been the silver bullet against Brexit uncertainty with those opting to enter the fray rewarded with consistent levels of buyer demand and buoyant sold prices to match.

With things only about to get better, the new build sector can expect a busy time over the coming year as pent up market apprehension surrounding our political landscape is relieved to a degree, and more homes are built, more homes are bought, and market sentiment receives a well-needed boost. ”