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Industry hopeful following election results

The UK has appointed a new government following a decisive general election

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Britain’s new prime minister, Sir Kier Starmer, speaking in Parliament

Businesses and associations have reacted to the results of the recent general election which saw Labour win a landslide victory while the Conservative party lost 251 seats across the UK. It is hoped the new Labour Government will bring about an improvement to jobs, housing, and public services. 

Following a number of scandals, resignations, and mishandled policies, the Conservatives consistently trailed Labour in the polls over the past two years meaning businesses and the public have been bracing for the probability of a Labour Government.

Charles Jarrold, chief executive officer of the British Printing Industries Federation, says: “Congratulations to the Labour Party on their landslide victory.

“With such a large majority there’s a great opportunity for Labour to work closely with UK industry, and print in particular, to make sure that UK business can fully contribute the productivity and growth challenges that have been so persistent recently.”

The election results provided a positive outcome for many other parties and independents as the Liberal Democrats, Reform, The Green Party, Ulster Unionist Party, and Plaid Cymru all gained new seats demonstrating a want for new policies and perspectives in different parts of the country.

Reform gained 14.3% of the vote with many voters switching to Reform from Conservative 

Despite the changes in Parliament, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has found the most recent election was the most disproportional on record in terms of votes cast matching seats in Westminster.

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the ERS, says: “It is clear that the British public is already voting as if we have a proportional system. For instance, this was the first election ever where four parties got over 10% of the vote share."

Aside from the Conservatives the other big party to be hit badly by Thursday’s results was the Scottish National Party (SNP) which lost 39 seats in Parliament.

In his first speech as prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer said: “[…] Our country has voted, decisively. For change. For national renewal and a return of politics to public service.

“When the gap between the sacrifices made by people and the service they receive from politicians grows this big, it leads to a weariness in the heart of a nation.

“Now, this wound, this lack of trust, can only be healed by actions not words. I know that. But we can make a start today with the simple acknowledgment that public service is a privilege.”

According to PwC, business leaders are calling on the new Government to focus on education and skills in its industrial strategy.

Data conducted by PwC found that 65% of business leaders think the UK is losing too many talented people to other countries while 81% believe an industrial strategy is needed for economic growth.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, an association for UK manufacturing, says: “I congratulate Sir Keir Starmer on leading his party to a decisive victory. Businesses will welcome such a clear result and an end to the political and economic instability of the last few years which is essential for companies to now bring forward much needed investment.
“Looking ahead, the new Government has a lot in its in-tray to address. First and foremost is the urgent need to kick start the UK’s anaemic growth levels of recent years and, boost investment in our infrastructure, without which we cannot address the many urgent priorities the country faces at national and regional level.
“A modern, long-term industrial strategy which tackles the skills crisis in particular will be key to delivering this growth. Manufacturers stand ready to work with the new Government and all stakeholders as a matter of urgency to help deliver this.”

Jarrold adds: “There’s so much that we are proud of about our sector, and there’s much that Labour will be able to do to accelerate its potential. We look forward to working with the new government across the areas in our Manifesto for Print, which set out the sector’s needs.  

Since being elected Keir Starmer has focused on strengthening the United Kingdom by visiting Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Today Starmer is visiting Cardiff where the UK steel industry will be a top priority as job losses at Tata Steelworks in Port Talbot is a big possibility.

Rishi Sunak resigned as Prime Minister on Friday, July 5th, 2024, following a large loss in the general election

PwC has said the UK has a big opportunity to improve its economy, the organisation has calculated a potential £650bn uplift to UK GVA by 2035 by improving the UK’s performance across GDP, tax, and wages.

Quentin Cole, sponsoring partner of Framework for Growth at PwC, adds: “Compared to other G7 economies, UK economic growth has broadly flatlined since the pandemic and is struggling to return to its historic levels. It’s no surprise there’s a growing clamour for a joined-up UK growth strategy, to break down the barriers to growth and productivity. The call from UK businesses for a stable environment to invest, access talent, and grow is equally important.

“Our research shows a strong appetite amongst business leaders to work with policymakers to create a shared vision and conditions for growth. A successful industrial strategy will require continuous engagement and innovation to harness the UK’s industrial and sectoral strengths across its regions.”

Speaking about UK stocks, Nigel Green, chief executive officer of deVere Group, has commented that UK stocks are likely to surge this year but not due to Labour’s victory.

Green says: “While Labour’s landslide victory provides a stable backdrop, it’s not going to be the primary driver of the gains we predict for UK stocks this year. The ultra-low valuations are the true attraction, and history suggests they won’t linger forever.”

Aside from hopeful changes to business growth and training, Labour is also planning many changes within UK employment which could affect print and signage businesses.

The government plans to create a single employment status for workers to ensure everyone has access to basic rights and protections like sick pay, holiday pay and protection against unfair dismissal. 

Labour also plans to raise the National Minimum Wage to at least £10 per hour as well as increase Statutory Sick Pay, increase mental health and wellbeing support, and make flexible working requests a default right from day one of employment.

Many printers and sign-makers experienced a surge in business thanks to the election

Carys Davis, BPIF public affairs adviser, has also stressed the importance of working with the new Opposition (the Conservatives).

Davis concludes: “In addition to the new Government, a new Parliament is a fantastic opportunity to raise the voice of print. As well as working with Government, it’s vital we maintain existing relationships with the Conservatives in Opposition and introduce ourselves to new backbenchers from all parties.

“Our Election Manifesto clearly sets out how policy and decision-makers can support our industry, and towards the end of the year our Priorities for Print process will launch, finding out from you, our members, what you think will make a difference over the first half of the Parliament.

“With so much change, it’s more important than ever that the industry share its views with us. With your input, feedback and suggestions, we can continue to be a strong voice for print in Parliament."

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