2 May 2018 | By Matthew Fell Insight

A new champion for UK policy

The CBI’s Chief UK Policy Director Matthew Fell explains the reasons behind the newly created role – and how the UK must become match fit for its new role in the world

Brexit is an era-defining issue, which is quite rightly absorbing a lot of attention from government and policy makers. But over the past few months our conversations with CBI members have been as much about the domestic agenda. For the UK to have a clear pitch to the world to drive our future success, we need to also grip the challenges at home.

Whether its people and skills, infrastructure, industrial strategy, or innovation, these are all policy areas the CBI cares deeply about and works hard on. I am now taking on the newly created role of Chief UK Policy Director to ensure they get the focus they need.

Take the people and skills agenda for example. Every business wants to make sure they can access the talent they need, whether that be nurturing the right skills in our schools, re-training in the workplace or tapping international expertise. Getting the Apprenticeship Levy right is something that comes up in almost every conversation with almost every member I meet. Diversity and inclusion is also at the top of their agenda. And as all firms grapple with the impact of technology and what it means for the future of work, we have a role to play in helping firms understand and react to those changes.

Digital and innovation are both areas where the opportunities and the potential are almost limitless. How we make sure we’re a world leader in innovation and how we drive trust in technology are both areas where the CBI has good expertise. And just as we did in our Ostrich to Magpie report, we are well placed not just to look at policy, but to share good practice from the businesses leading the way in adopting new technologies.

But we also need the infrastructure to match our ambitions. Delivering the infrastructure requirements not only for London but for every region of the UK is a challenge that must never be out of the limelight. Often, we know what the right answers are, but we need to keep the profile up and maintain a relentless focus on delivery. A big part of this agenda is ensuring the UK has got the skills and the resources to deliver our infrastructure aspirations.

Likewise on industrial strategy, businesses are looking for momentum. The reaction from most businesses is “we’re pleased to have it” and “it’s a good start”. But they want to see sector deals accelerated and clarity on how to move forward with regional industrial strategies.  

Renewed focus

Each of these issues is a massive priority in its own right. It will take focus and discipline to come up with the solutions.

The role that our members play in shaping this agenda is hugely important. In all my roles at the CBI, I’ve seen first-hand the power of our business parliament in shaping our ideas, contributing to them and testing them. We routinely engage with businesses right around the UK, across all sectors and of all sizes. It enables us to identify, act on and develop credible solutions to the issues that matter most to businesses.

At a time when the government has got its hands full, and Parliamentary time is hugely constrained, it’s solutions, not problems, it needs. So the more we have sharp, road-tested, proven solutions that command a strong mandate from across the business community, the more we can be helpful to government.

I am motivated by a belief that business is a force for good. We need to make that case and in everything that we do demonstrate how it helps to create a more prosperous society.

As Chief UK Policy Director I want to focus on the ideas and solutions that will keep the UK match fit and ensure that we remain one of the best places in the world to do business. 

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