Leadership cannot come from government alone

Tasked with writing a column before the general election, knowing that by the time it is published the results will be in, is no easy business. The latest blog from our MD Alexis is the result of such a challenge. Here he explains that, regardless of the election result, private sector businesses need also to step up to a leadership role.

Putting a newspaper together is a complicated business. Columns like mine often have to be written a week in advance. That is a challenge this month as I want to write about the result of the general election before the election takes place. I am not about to make any predictions but I know one thing for certain. The voice from local business needs to be a strong and powerful influence on whoever is elected.

Leadership cannot come alone from our politicians. The government is facing unprecedented financial pressures. Whether you are in favour of more or less public spending you cannot deny one thing: the amount of debt owed by our country has grown tremendously and continues to grow. Our government spends more than it receives. Coupled with Brexit and the terrible challenges we face around security and terrorism, one thing is clear: any UK government is going to be under pressure from day one.

Business has a vital role to play in sharing the burden. Not just big business but every business, in every town and every city across the land. Business can provide the leadership on those key issues that will shape our economy for years to come. How do we generate more jobs? How do we attract more investment? How do we deal with Brexit? All of these questions can only be answered sensibly if businesses have a strong and powerful voice in the debate.

Politicians need to listen but businesses need to step up and be heard. As ever, Sheffield leads the way. In our own city we have a strong and active Chamber of Commerce. We have the private sector-led Business Improvement District that is investing thousands in improving our city centre. I have recently been involved in setting up the Sheffield Property Association. The first Association outside of London to represent the organisations that own and invest in buildings across our city. Together they invest billions in our local economy and will be a strong and powerful voice to drive investment and economic growth.

The morning after the election all eyes will be on Westminster, but it is worth remembering that leadership needs to come from us all; businesses included.