Olympic spirit not enough to fire economic performance

First published in Hampshire Business

Britain’s economy is likely to languish in the doldrums until the end of 2013 at the earliest.

That was the view from Hampshire business leaders at the latest Wilkins Kennedy Round Table, with some forecasting a flatlining economy for years to come.

Despite the tough economic times, delegates almost universally reported that their business had been spared the worst of it, with one reporting their company doubling in size in the last two years.

The table were told Hampshire businesses are protected to an extent by the “soft, southern shandy-drinking underbelly of the south” compared with the environment further north, where the economic pain is considerably worse. A long forecast glut of insolvencies had also failed to materialise on the south coast, but the business recovery specialists are considerably busier elsewhere in the UK.

Despite being generally touted as a boost for business, just one of the companies around the table reported benefiting from the Olympics. It was generally agreed that UK business had been mis-sold the Olympics and the benefits it would bring, especially given the multi-billion-pound price tag. The forecast 11 million visitor boom was in fact just a re-location, as the usual tourists were expected to stay away.

There were a wide range of measures suggested to help reinvigorate Britain, from the re-introduction of national service and building an airport on the Thames Estuary to taxing foreign imports to boost local producers.

There was a focus on measures to help Britain’s blighted young people, as the numbers of young people out of work approach one million. Suggestions included incentivising apprenticeships and making them less complex to manage than the current system. The reintroduction of the 1980’s Youth Training Scheme was also a popular suggestion, as was reducing the numbers getting into debt for degrees that did not lead to employment.

Cutting the level of employers’ National Insurance payments to just 5% was another well received way to give small businesses a helping hand. Removing VAT from domestic refurbishment projects was proposed as a targeted giveaway to help the smaller end of the hard-hit construction industry.

The round table was told the Government needs to react creatively to prevent the crisis in Europe pulling in the UK and turning the country into “a sleepy backwater of global commerce”.

Attendees

  • Gareth Lewis, Polymedia
  • Naomi Nesbit, Wilkins Kennedy
  • Matthew Waghorn, Wilkins Kennedy
  • David Knott, TKL Architects
  • Lisa Emery, Office Angels
  • Julian Gee, Spitfire Marketing
  • Damian Gevertz, D and G Media
  • Adrian Williams, Amity Travel
  • Lucy Richmond, AFC Totton
  • For details of the next Round Table or to attend, contact Claire Peers on claire.peers@wilkinskennedy.com

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