Greg Hands addresses PwC roundtable in Manchester on tax, productivity, and infrastructure

Investing in infrastructure, improving productivity, and engaging the public in discussing tax were top of the agenda at a recent roundtable hosted by PwC and attended by Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Member of Parliament for Chelsea & Fulham, Greg Hands.

Greg Hands, who is in charge of Government spending at Her Majesty’s Treasury, had the opportunity to address a number of local business leaders as well as representatives of industry and professional organisations at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ offices in Manchester during the Conservative Party Conference.

Productivity was a focus for many of the businesses in the room, and the discussion included how improved connectivity between regions and cities might enable a greater spread of skills across the UK. Accordingly, the roundtable drew attention to the Government paper “Fixing the Foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation”, which was published in July 2015 and can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixing-the-foundations-creating-a-more-prosperous-nation, and which also discusses productivity in the UK.

The group discussed devolution and the need for clearer communication on the objectives and purpose of tax policies, and PwC emphasised the need for long-term road maps setting out the end goal in order to engage the public more closely in the tax agenda. According to PwC, this was a view that they have heard consistently when speaking to businesses, the public – including students – and their own employees as part of their “Paying for Tomorrow” campaign on the future of tax. PwC expressed the opinion that ultimately people are more likely to support a system that they understand.

Speaking after the event, Greg Hands said:“I would like to thank PwC for inviting me to address the panel on possible directions for the UK economy. While tax is not directly part of my remit as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, I was grateful for the chance to engage representatives of local business and professional bodies, and I trust that the discussion was fruitful for all present.”

More information on PwC’s “Paying for Tomorrow” project can be found at www.pwc.co.uk/issues/futuretax.html.