May's play to business overshadowed by Taylor Review

Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
11th July 2017

In what was heralded as the relaunch of the Prime Minister a year after she took power, the launch today of her employment review certainly did not match that expectation.

Mrs May, in my view, was very much overshadowed by the author of the gig economy report, Matthew Taylor, a man with strong labour leanings who actually served as Tony Blair’s head of policy.

The Taylor Review of Modern Work Practices was wide ranging and did not recommend banning zero hours contracts as feared by many businesses.

He pointed out that if Britain was to increase its productivity levels - disastrously low in terms of our European competitors - there needed to be more flexibility for companies in employing people.

What I found interesting from Theresa May today was that there was more than one mention of the need to encourage and back SMEs - small and medium sized companies.

Hitherto, since becoming the Prime Minister a year ago, business - and especially here among Business West members in Gloucestershire - companies have felt very much ignored by the government.

The ire of many of these companies here has been caused by what they feel is a lack of confidence and clarity in the Brexit process, particularly among those Gloucestershire companies which rely on exports in their business.

And while, many of the Taylor Review’s recommendations would give employers more flexibility in their fair employment of people, Mrs May will find it very difficult to get some of these reforms through the Commons because of Labour opposition and her tenuous position as Prime Minister.

Business will now hope that while the work of Matthew Taylor’s team may not actually come to a great deal, at least the government now appears to be listening and realising that our productivity and quality are keys to our economic and trading future.

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