16 September 2015

Foreword

The UK economic recovery has gained pace over the last year, with growth at its fastest rate since 2006 and unemployment being at its lowest since mid-2008. Supported by high levels of business investment and domestic consumption, this growth has placed us ahead of competitors in other western industrialised countries. Although we anticipate the UK’s economic recovery to bed in firmly over the next year, the slow-down in emerging economies will add to the headwinds we continue to experience from faltering growth in the Eurozone. Though the results of this year’s election indicated we would see a greater degree of political certainty, it is clear that there is still a strong role for continued dialogue between government and business, as the new government continues to lay out its agenda. We need the Government to focus on the delivery of a policy framework that encourages businesses of all shapes and sizes to prosper at home and abroad.

As we adjust to the new economic and political situation however, there are real opportunities for us to influence the future. Business has an important role to play on the issues that matter most to the prosperity of the UK, including: tackling the deficit in the upcoming spending review; responding to plans for a new National Living Wage; continuing efforts to achieve ambitious EU reforms ahead of the referendum; and shaping the fast-moving debate on the devolution of powers across the country. It is within this context we find that the rural regions continue to play a significant role in the UK’s current economic success, their contribution being comparable to England’s other major conurbations. What’s more, rural economies have successfully diversified, encompassing industries such as manufacturing, business services, distribution, education and food services, as well as agriculture. Rural Britain’s talent and outputs are something the UK should be proud to celebrate, and it is right that Rural Kent continue to promote the dynamism of this important part of our economy. The CBI continues to offer its support and wishes this innovative endeavour continued success.

John Cridland

CBI Director-General