Local elections: What do they mean for businesses in Birmingham?

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

On Thursday 3 May 2018, the next set of Local Government elections will take place across the Birmingham Metropolitan Area.

With this in mind, the GBCC has taken a closer look at each of the major political parties’ business priorities.

If you are interested in finding out more on the parties’ other proposals, you can check out their full manifestos below (where possible).

It is worth noting that the priorities listed below are only a summary of some of the issues we believe most directly affect businesses.

Each party has a comprehensive range of pledges which can be found in their full manifestos (see links below).

The Labour Party: Top Proposals for Businesses

  • Encourage Local Growth
  • Invest in skills
  • Invest in Business Support programmes

The Labour Party has pledged in their manifesto to keep wealth in the local economy, by following the Preston Model which emphasises Community Wealth Building. They are currently working with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies on encouraging anchor institutions to invest more in Birmingham and its people.

The Labour Party manifesto prioritises skills, with the announcement of a number of initiatives designed to bridge the skills gap. They have pledged to launch a Skills Fund which will offer training grants between £500-£18,000 per SME to upskill new and existing employees, and a Progression Pathways scheme which intends to support long term unemployed participants back into work. Furthermore, the Solihull Youth Promise Plus project is to be expanded and the Skills for Growth Hub will receive £2.5 million of investment.

They also pledge to look to increase the number of business support programmes available to SME’s, with the existing Business Growth Programme to receive an extra £22m during 2018/2019, which they estimate will create 2,000 jobs.

The Conservative Party: Top Proposals for Businesses

  • “One stop shop” for business queries
  • Support for Business Improvement Districts
  • Reform Council procurement to support SMEs

The Conservative Party pledges to put in place a Business Support Desk within the City Council’s Chief Executive’s Office. The support desk will act as a main contact point for businesses who are seeking support across a range of council departments. This will give the Council the opportunity to engage more with businesses on specific issues and will allow businesses to feedback to the Council.   

The Party has also pledged to support new and existing Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) by scrapping the so called ‘shoppers tax’ on Business Improvement Districts. The ‘shoppers tax’ is an administration charge on BIDs which are official organisations who levy local businesses to fund additional services such as festivals, environmental improvements, anti-crime initiatives or street cleaning.

The Conservative Party pledge to reform the Council’s current contracting arrangements which they believe are too heavily weighted in favour of large businesses. They intend to change the procurement criteria to open up the tenures to SME’s.

The Conservatives want younger people to be made more aware of the different career pathways that are open to them and one of the ways in which they intend to achieve this is by moving job fairs away from Victoria Square and out into local communities so that they can be better targeted.   

The Conservative Party Manifesto is only available in hard copy but you can view their recent press releases on campaign pledges here.

The Liberal Democrats: Top Proposals for Businesses

  • Support skills partnerships
  • Link public support for investment local outcomes
  • Tackle congestion

The Liberal Democrats have highlighted the skills gap as one of the biggest challenges facing the city. They intend to examine the relationship between schools and the further education sector to ensure that young people have access to quality employment schemes. They will also look to build an effective partnership with both businesses and the West Midlands Combined Authority, and ensure that public support is linked to training, apprenticeships and access to employment projects.       

The Lib Dems have also stressed the need to tackle congestion. One of the measures they are looking to implement is an end to free on-street parking in the city centre in the evenings. However, they have also stated that they are willing to consider schemes that would provide reduced parking rates for low energy and low carbon vehicles.  

For the full manifesto click here

Other Party Manifestos

UKIP Manifesto – access here

Green Party Local Election priorities – access here