13 Jul

The UK is open for business and it is working

This weekend finds your humble columnist in the United Kingdom. Despite everything we might continue to read about Europe, the UK is doing unbelievably well. 

London is a great place to be, particularly when Wimbledon is on, and tomorrow I'm off to join in the excitement of the men's final.

This country really believes in creating jobs. 

Mind you, tickets are not easy to get. Rumour has it, last year a pair of tickets for the men's final went for £20,000. Louise gasps, "That's over $40,000."

But, before you start thinking about spending your hard earned with the touts, remember that if you get caught you'll be back in your hotel without seeing a single ball go over the net.

And speaking of hotels, a humble room is around £800 and if you want one with a bathroom, which not everyone over here thinks is a necessity, it could set you back £2000. It's not cheap, particularly as our Australian dollar isn't what it used to be, having dropped from 66¢ to the pound to under 50¢ now. 

The land of hope and glory is certainly starting to live up to its name again. As the fifth-largest economy in the world, it struggled like all the others in recent times, entering recession in 2008 and exiting in 2009, while we in Australia sailed through, despite many saying we could stumble.

Then in 2012 and 2013, growth in the UK stagnated again but, by the end of last year, it achieved the fastest growth in Europe and now sits at 2.6 per cent. As a result, employment has reached the highest levels since records began.

The economic policies of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, have led to the creation of 3 million jobs, which has in turn fuelled economic growth, though wages and productivity have not increased at the same rate. The growth has also been helped by a jump in investment.

Some quite controversial austerity measures were implemented, including drastic cuts to public sector employment and welfare. Other initiatives included Project Merlin, which encouraged the big banks to lend money to small businesses in return for being bailed out in 2007-2010.

The fact is that this country is getting on with what Joe Hockey said he wanted to do when our government first came to power. The UK experience shows that if you stay the course with sensible reforms, they will work.

I've got to say that this country really believes in creating jobs. 

In January I was in New York and visited the UK consul-general to the United States.  Our consul-general, you'll recall, had just been appointed – Nick Minchin, a very senior Liberal politician from the Howard years.

The UK has done it differently. The UK representative is all about jobs. Looking at the business background of Danny Lopez, the consul-general, you can see that his KPIs are not about how many cocktail parties he goes to but how many jobs he creates back in the UK each year.

And that's the story.  The UK is open for business and it is working. And Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have convinced the British people that it's worth doing.

It's a lesson for us. We will fail unless we do what the Brits have done and just get tougher. And have exciting ideas that involve us all.

Look at what they did with the big banks. They are rolling in cash now and can afford to do more. 

In my years of visiting the UK during the recession, I wouldn't have given them a chance. But now, despite Europe being such a problem, they're doing unbelievably well.

Not only that, they've even pinched our weather. This past week has seen temperatures in the thirties. And those who couldn't get to a watering hole quick enough were dropping like flies. 

And while we might worry about immigrants, illegal and otherwise, the UK is a country where over 7 million of its population – more than 10 per cent – are immigrants. 

The legal ones are getting jobs and the illegals, up to 40 a day, are being arrested and deported.

So they're beating us at that too.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/mitchell-column-20150710-gi8mnn.html#ixzz3fjJhwBas

Posted in General by jcramond@britishchamber.com
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