A New Leader of the Conservative Party & UK Prime Minister
The new Prime Minister will appoint the new Government over the following few days with the Cabinet expected to be in place by Tuesday evening.
Once in place the new Prime Minister will look at a wider range of policy issues that appeal to the electorate that will count for the next General Election. Liz Truss has committed to a “financial event” on Wednesday 21 September to announce measures to respond to the rising cost of living. It is likely that a full Budget will take place later this year, possibly mid to end of November.
At the Conservative Party Conference (2-5 October), the Prime Minister and Cabinet will reveal their broad programme and set the scene for the new administration. New West End Company believes that the themes are likely to be:
- A smaller state and more personal responsibility
- Lower, not higher, taxation to promote economic growth
- Less regulation to encourage growth
- A more outward looking Britain, maximising any benefits of leaving the EU
These will be within the wider context of the rising cost of living, particularly the cost of energy, and the impact on the inflation rate; growing levels of industrial unrest; the social and economic recovery from COVID-19; the war in Ukraine and wider implications; climate change after a long hot summer; and immigration pressures, partly resulting from these global changes.
With an election only two years way, the new Prime Minister will be focussed on how these policies and issues can be managed to secure the wide levels of support across the country that the Conservatives won in December 2019.
Chief Operating Officer Dee Corsi will be attending the Conservative Party Conference will our Head of Public Affairs Paul Barnes and colleagues from across our membership to advocate on our key West End policy issues; Business Rates Reform, Tax Free Shopping Re-Instatement and UK Visa Regime.
Looking specifically at the impact on West End businesses there are some clear areas of opportunity and challenge:
- Liz Truss vowed to get London’s economy “firing on all cylinders” through tax cuts, bold reform and removing regulation that stifles business. She said that that she would be “London’s strongest champion.”
- Possible re-introduction of tax-free shopping to boost the international visitor economy. If successful, this would extend the scheme to visitors from EU states, so opening-up a new market of shopping tourists.
- Possible loosening of Sunday trading restrictions, but only in the West End and Knightsbridge International Centres.
- Pressure to ensure that the “cost of doing business” issue is recognised and addressed with particular emphasis on business rates.
- Continued support for high streets and small businesses.
New West End Company will send a letter from our Chairman, setting out these opportunities later this this week and engage the Cabinet Members once they are announced in the coming days.
- Possible abandonment of the proposed Online Sales tax, leaving the burden of business rates largely untouched.
- Tighter public service budgets, particularly hitting local government and policing authorities as well as Transport for London.
- Concerns over the impact of the new Prime Minister’s economic policies on the rate of inflation.
- The size of any “cost of living” support impacting on consumer
- Possible supply issues with Britain taking a tougher stance on relationships with the EU and China.
Commenting on the news, COO Dee Corsi said: “Congratulations to Liz Truss on her appointment as Prime Minister. We fully support her ambition to focus on a thriving London economy as a key component in ensuring that the wider UK remains globally competitive. We look forward to working with her and the new Cabinet to rebuild trade across London’s West End and support the one in eight Londoners who work there.
“As the country leans into harsh economic headwinds, it is crucial that the new Prime Minister and her wider Government prioritise measures that unlock business growth - namely a fundamental review of business rates, the reinstatement of tax free shopping and a re-evaluation of the UK visa system.”
New West End Company’s Public Affairs Working Group will meet on Wednesday 7 September to discuss the best way to respond to these issues.
New West End Company is working with the Association of International Retail on active and immediate campaigns to restore tax-free shopping and to exempt the International Centres from Sunday trading restrictions.
A further members update will be sent on Wednesday afternoon.