Business in the Community’s call to the next Government

Dear Prime Minister,

We know there are many challenges for the next Parliament but we believe so much could be achieved for our nation and local communities if government works closely with business to create the policy environment that enables them to be the best they can possibly be at responsible business.

Business in the Community focusses on the practical actions business can take to create a fairer society and more sustainable future – particularly for the places and people in our country that need most support. From helping local schools to succeed, to ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity and access to work; from creating resilient supply chains to improving business’s environmental footprint.

We believe that by better working together we will find new ways to create the future that we all want.

That is why we are asking this government to:

  • Replace the Apprenticeship Levy with a Skills Levy that can be used according to the needs of a community, business or individual. A more flexible approach would allow businesses to better upskill their employees and change their roles in response to the impact of digital transformation, and would support older workers and returners after career breaks as parents or carers to gain new skills.
  • Broaden the planned extension of Gender Pay Gap reporting for businesses with over 250 employees and introduce Diversity Pay Gap reporting to close the persistent employment rate gap between all the diverse groups in the UK. We also suggest bringing medium sized enterprises into this reporting to ensure fair access to opportunities. Business must commit to transparency on diversity reporting and companies that don’t publish their data should face a penalty.
  • Reinforce the UK’s world leading position on climate change and environmental improvements, using science based policy to build a restorative under ‘2 degree economy’, which will create more innovative solutions for exports and trade with the rest of the world.

Set up a joint commission involving business and Government to review the impact and unintended consequences of the digital revolution and new technologies on communities, businesses and employees, particularly focusing on parts of the UK where the local economy is most at risk from the impact of digital change.

The future success of business and society are inextricably linked – after all, businesses that practise responsible business perform better than those that don’t and increasingly investors know that too.

The essence of a responsible business is strong leadership, strong people, a healthy society and a healthy environment. Our challenge to business is that against each of these they look at how their business can play a greater role. Be it a law firm employing ex-offenders, to a baker running breakfast clubs or a recycling company making new products from rubbish – we believe every business can play their part so that everyone in the country can play theirs too.

Responsible businesses have done a huge amount to create opportunities for young people and reach those that are excluded and create employment. There remains an urgent need to ensure more people in this country feel able to make a contribution – especially in places of greatest need around the UK. That is why alongside our long term broad responsible business goals we are particularly asking businesses to:

  • Commit to offering workers a better deal. While zero hour contracts have worked for some, too many businesses have benefitted from them at the expense of employees. Workers should have the right to contracts they are able to rely on and create security around.
  • Review recruitment processes ensuring that jobs are open to a diverse range of people, including those with criminal records and young people who are looking for their first opportunities. The youth unemployment rate for 18 – 24 year olds remains stubbornly high at 11.3 per cent. Business must ensure that entry level jobs are clear and easy for young people to understand so that they do not exclude young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Ensure employees can stay in work for longer and support career changes in later life. With an ageing society every UK employer should commit to 12 per cent more older workers in their workforce to secure one million more older people in employment by 2022.
  • Take action to identify how they can each create at least one of the 200,000 new UK jobs that will be needed in the transition to a circular economy.

On behalf of all our members we look forward to working with you and your government and parliament to help create a UK which proudly own its place as the leader in responsible business.

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