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Collaboration is key to UK economy’s future, businesses tell government

The recommendations centre on collaboration and trust to create a more productive and progressive economy at all levels.

Over the past 18 months, Grant Thornton has brought together local leaders from public, private and not for profit sectors, people and communities across Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire to share ideas on what will shape a more vibrant economy.

From these conversations, the firm has developed a number of recommendations which have been put to government with the aim of building a positive future that creates opportunities for all. 

Fiona Baldwin (pictured), practice leader at Grant Thornton’s Milton Keynes and Northampton offices, said: “The UK is at a pivotal point in history and our conversations with businesses clearly underline that collaboration is key to the future of our economy. 

“Everyone can see the growing trust deficit in society and the sense that many feel left without a voice. Thrown into the mix is the task of negotiating our future relationship with the European Union and trading relationships across the world.”

Grant Thornton’s recommendations to government are based around four key themes:

  • Build purpose into business and financial markets. With trust in business declining – down 13% to 33% from 2016 figures – ‘profits for purpose’ should become the new normal with businesses delivering wider social and environmental outcomes as well as profits.
  • Place collaboration at the heart of industrial strategy. Government should incentivise collaboration to boost exports, develop a healthy pool of skills and talent for employers to drawn from, and unlock innovation.
  • Equip towns, cities and rural areas to create vibrant local economies. Government should continue to devolve powers to local areas and provide frameworks that support collaboration on strategic issues and raise finance for investment in infrastructure requirements.
  • Measuring success on more than GDP. Instead use a ‘Vibrant Economy Index’ which looks at a number of indicators including prosperity, opportunity, inclusion, wellbeing, sustainability and community. 

Mrs Baldwin said: “Government cannot, and should not, work to achieve this alone. Businesses and other organisations both locally and nationally have a big role to play and together, we can all help to build a positive future and a society that benefits all.

“We welcome Theresa May’s commitment to cross party working on key issues such as Brexit and the future of work and at a local level, this should be led by initiatives and models that encourage region-wide collaboration.

“We also fully support greater devolution to deliver targeted, localised decision-making. 

“Our Shaping a Vibrant Economy: a blueprint for the UK, describes what we, in collaboration with others, are doing to create a more vibrant economy, and sets out what we think government can do to help fulfil this vision.” 

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