The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called on all parties to provide a guarantee of stability and focus on UK business growth in its manifesto for the upcoming election.
The ‘Brexit and Beyond' 2017 General Election manifesto called for the new government to provide "clear answers" around how Brexit will affect UK business communities - including hiring, customs procedures and regulation.
Though, it said: "Business communities across the UK send a very strong message that the election cannot - and must not - be about Brexit alone."
It added: "The best Brexit deal imaginable would be of little use if business communities continue to face…high upfront taxes and costs, and other constraints resulting from inaction or ignorance in Westminster and Whitehall."
The manifesto was published on Tuesday ahead of the General Election vote set for 8 June.
It criticised the "myriad" of upfront taxes and cost to businesses - including increasing business rates, the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, and hikes to the insurance premium tax, which had all "increased the burden on firms before they even turn over a single pound".
The BCC therefore urged the new government to commit to refrain from introducing new upfront taxes until the end of the next Parliament in 2022.
It argued: "Taxes on employment, premises, and overheads are sapping business investment and growth potential. Unchecked, they will act as a drag on their future productivity."
BCC director general Adam Marshall said: "At this election, business communities want a clear commitment from all parties to create the best possible conditions for growth…Westminster must stop and reverse the relentless increases in the up-front cost of doing business in Britain."
Brexit and regulatory stability
In the Brexit negotiations, the BCC asked that the new government "deliver day-one regulatory stability when the UK leaves the EU".
The BCC said this short-term stability and "equivalence of standards" with the EU should allow for any future changes to best reflect the needs of UK businesses while promoting a gradual reduction of regulation.
It referred to its February paper ‘Business Brexit Priorities' that expanded on this point. In the paper it said existing EU regulation should be maintained for a "minimum period" before any major changes come into effect.
The paper also asked that the government ensured UK regulation "is broadly aligned with, recognised by, the EU". It suggested the government entrust an independent body "to promote a flexible domestic regulatory environment" but ensure this was compatible with EU regulation.
Marshall said: "While businesses all across the UK want a good Brexit deal, they are very clear that decisions taken here at home matter as much - if not more - to our future growth prospects."
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