Never have we seen a greater disconnect between politicians and business in the UK. The traditional criticism that businesses and their owners unduly influence politics and policy seems like a distant memory this week.
Staffing and the B word
Reading the Architects Journal (AJ) today, one is reminded of real issues facing professionals such as architects.
There is continued uncertainty over the post-Brexit immigration regime for qualified professionals desperately needed by UK practices. At the same time, reduction in demand for commercial office space and uncertainty over funding for schemes is causing many London based practices to cut staff levels as a defensive measure.
Meetings before the summer break with my clients suggested the majority of practices were considering redundancies this year, or looking to exploit natural attrition by not replacing leavers. This is happening quietly but consistently.
There is also the growing scandal of infrastructure projects being abandoned at vast cost to the public purse. The AJ’s excellent coverage of the Garden Bridge fiasco has now been supplemented by news that TfL spent nearly £10m on the proposed Thames crossing at Rotherhithe.
Much more worryingly the government has announced a delay of up to five years on the completion of the first phase of HS2, and there is clearly a growing desire on the right of British politics to scrap the project completely.
After spending £7.4bn it would be epic public procurement catastrophe for this to be written off. To what extent are MPs dealing with these issues?
Well a quick search of Hansard, the official record of the House of Commons shows that HS2 was last mentioned on the 15th of July. Now this might seem unfair on MPs; after all they have been on their summer break since then. But given emergency Brexit debates, possible elections and prorogation it is unlikely that any of the above issues will get airtime until November. And if there is a ‘hard’ Brexit, perhaps infrastructure, skilled immigration and the competitive environment for UK professionals will not be top of the agenda.
The waiting game
So whilst the politicians argue with each other, we are waiting to debate the real issues affecting professionals, their clients and indeed businesses in general. Let’s hope they can make time for us soon.
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