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How do we get our Regional Voice heard?

In this update from Martin J Warren, ICAEW Regional Director for the South West, He explains first-hand how vital it is for the regional voice to be heard particularly in the current climate of uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

I’m sure that whichever side of the fence you may be, or indeed if you are actually sitting upon it, the frustrations of trying to run a business or advise clients in this climate of political stalemate over Brexit is becoming intolerable.

As the deadline of March 29th approaches this is becoming more and more acute particularly as it feels as though things are moving backwards rather than forwards.

On top of this frustration however is the reality that every available resource and all the political focus is being absorbed by BREXIT with the inevitable result that the bread and butter work of government is suffering and policy development and forward looking decision making is being forgotten or kicked into the long grass.

In this time of great uncertainty business confidence is naturally declining and major investment including inward to the UK is similarly being delayed or shelved

However, there will come a time when the fog will lift and it will be vital for the regional voice to be heard above the clamour of voices looking towards Government for support. The loudest voices are always those closest to government in the South East of the country and it is a challenge for us in the regions to gain any traction.

I have, on a number of occasions, raised this issue with you as members and I have been making some progress although it is proving to be a very slow process.

I have begun making closer links with FSB, CBI, IoD but engagement remains difficult as the way in which these organisations are divided up and operate in England varies. There are no co-terminus boundaries to work with and their policy teams are not always decentralised but I see those connections as vital to a coordinated voice.

In February there will be meetings of the region’s ICAEW Strategy Boards. These are groups of ICAEW members interested in the economy meeting together to try and find ways and means of getting that voice heard and making a difference. The South West Board has been rejuvenated in recent months and now has the range of membership to achieve something and the first meeting of the newly constituted Southern Board brings together a similarly diverse group of CEOs and MDs.

ICAEW can make a difference in facilitating or even being that regional economic voice. If any of you feel you could help or make a difference to achieving that goal then I would be extremely pleased to hear from you.

Martin J Warren FCA
ICAEW Regional Director for the South West