4 January 2018

Update

CBI sets out business priorities for 2018

CBI director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, calls for this year to be one of unity, clarity and urgency – at home as well as on Brexit.

CBI sets out business priorities for 2018

In her end of year letter to members, CBI director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, gave a review of the year that was and looked ahead to the business priorities for 2018 to help ensure the economy thrives in all corners of the UK.

Reflecting on 2017 as a rollercoaster ride, Carolyn called for 2018 to be more predictable and for politics to be calmer. Despite firms being resilient, there’s no doubt that the impact of economic uncertainty has taken its toll. While the global economy enjoyed a boom in 2017, the UK economy shifted down a gear, with GDP growth of around 1.5% last year compared with 2.3% in 2016.

The business community was pleased to see progress on Brexit with phase one of the negotiations complete. But this is only part of the picture and we should be under no illusion about the scale of heavy lifting needed in 2018. Continued progress on domestic priorities – such as the government’s industrial strategy – must stay high on the government’s agenda over the coming months.

Read Carolyn’s year-end letter to members in full

Looking ahead to the opportunities and challenges in 2018, Carolyn highlighted the importance of binding Brexit transition terms being agreed by the end of March this year. Alongside this, a framework for a final deal that delivers barrier free trade with the EU should be agreed by Autumn to keep jobs and investment in the UK.

On the domestic agenda, urgent transformation of the UK’s skills base must be a top priority this year. In 2018, the CBI will be campaigning for reformed careers advice in schools, effective delivery of higher quality technical education, including T-Levels in England, a reformed apprenticeship levy and real progress on mass adult reskilling.

In parallel, more practical action is required in the coming months to support innovation and ensure the UK keeps pace with technological advances. In the coming months, the CBI working with businesses and universities to improve the UK’s approach to commercialising the leading-edge research we deliver so successfully.

Finally, Carolyn gave her thoughts on what the year ahead has in stall for infrastructure. She called for progress on planned infrastructure projects – Heathrow, Hinkley and High-Speed Rail – as well as locally delivered regional economic plans.

Read the media coverage Carolyn’s letter received in The Telegraph, the Express and the Independent.

The next twelve months is set to be the most important year for the UK economy this century. There is a lot to play for but no time to lose, business is committed to a sincere partnership with government to make this year one of unity, clarity and urgency – at home as well as on Brexit.

For more information please contact Hannah.collins@cbi.org.uk