With all the other contenders now out of the running, Theresa May is on track to become the UK’s next leader. Business Advice examines her track record on key business issues.
As the longest-serving home secretary for over 60 years, May has focused mainly on security and immigration since the Conservative party regained power in 2010, but as prime minister she will be an important figure in the county’s economic future.
The next Conservative leader is certainly no lightweight on business issues, however. Her political CV includes a stint as shadow secretary of state for work and pensions and the establishment of a Women’s Business Council to improve the pipeline for women in thebusinessenvironment and increase their contribution to the economy.
To get a better idea of what could be in store for firm leaders, we scoured parliamentary records in Hansard to look at what she’s said about enterprise in the past.
On immigration controls:
we listen tobusiness, and when we changed the system for non-EU economic migration we made every effort to do it in a way thatbusinessapplauded.
currently, many businesses are hiring workers from overseas, rather than taking the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home. We need to discourage a default position of looking overseas to fill the skills gap.
On doing business with China:
it is an important market for the UK and I am pleased to say that we have seen some strong growth in the number of Chinese visitors to the UK for bothbusinessand tourism. It is one of our priority markets, so we have undertaken a number of changes to our system. Half our Chinesebusinesscustomers, for example, now benefit from access to a priority scheme. We have opened new expanded visa application centres in a number of cities.
On women in business:
if women set up businesses at the same rate as men in the UK, we would have 150, 000 newbusiness’start-ups each year. We are encouraging the establishment of small businesses through excellent initiatives such as the new enterprise allowance, which will provide mentors and financial support to help the unemployed to become self-employed.
one reason we have specifically recruited business mentors to work with women who want to set up their own business is that access to finance is often much harder for them.
On flexible working:
there is a real difference between how small businesses can cope with regulation and that burden and how a large businesswith a big human resources department can cope.
I continue to believe that flexible working and flexible parental leave will be of benefit overall and will benefit many small businesses, a number of which already operate flexibly. However, we are looking into how we can avoid constantly requiring businesses to effect innovations.
On the modern slavery act:
first, it makes companies think about whether there is slavery in their supply chains. Secondly, their declarations of the action they have takenor of the fact that they have taken no actionwill be available to consumers, who will be able to make choices about which companies to dobusinesswith as a result.