The North East was well-represented as the British Chambers of Commerce held the inaugural meeting of its new Business Council.

The new Council has met with Cabinet Minister, the Rt Hon Michael Gove and Shadow Chancellor, the Rt Hon Rachel Reeves.

The new body, comprising some of the most prominent British businesses, has been brought together to work in partnership with politicians to drive the future of the economy at this crucial time.

North East England Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John McCabe attended the pivotal House of Lords meeting, alongside BCC Director General Shevaun Haviland and President and Business Council Chair Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, representing the network of 53 Chambers of Commerce across the UK.

John McCabe said: “We’re very clearly in the early stages of a long General Election campaign so this was the ideal time to launch the BCC’s Business Council.

“It was fascinating to hear Michael Gove and Rachel Reeves starting to set out their respective emerging economic plans and it was a great opportunity for Business Council members to make their case in front of these senior politicians and other hugely influential figures from across government, including the prime minister’s special adviser on business and investment.

“My role in the Business Council is to represent the strength and diversity of the Chamber network across the UK. I’ll be working closely with colleagues at the BCC and in other Chambers to ensure the voices of businesses of all sizes and sectors are heard in this important new forum.”

The Business Council will focus on five key challenges and will develop policy proposals that will help transform the future of the UK economy. Its initial recommendations will feed into a Business Manifesto in the new year that will aim to influence political party manifestos ahead of the General Election.

Baroness Lane-Fox said: “Now more than ever, businesses must come together to tackle the challenges facing the UK economy.

“In the face of economic disruption and with a general election looming, our new, national Business Council will help the voice of business to be heard loud and clear by policymakers.

“Together in partnership with politicians, it will find the answers to the key issues facing the UK economy. Firms are realistic and understand the financial limitations that the governments of both today and the next five years will be facing. But it’s through initiatives like these that we can work collectively to make a real difference for businesses on the frontline of the economy and give them the tools they need to succeed.”

The Rt Hon Michael Gove said: “The government is focused on the Prime Minister’s missions to grow the economy and halve inflation.

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“Levelling up plays a crucial part in that. Boosting skills up and down the country and improving digital connectivity are key tenets of spreading opportunity across the UK, and will in, turn, contribute to economic growth.”

Business Council members will focus on at least one of five key challenges – People and Work; Digital Revolution; Green Innovation; Global Britain; and The Local Economy of the Future.

In parallel with the Business Council, Square One Law’s Gill Hunter has been selected to Chair a Workplace Equity Commission, tasked with producing recommendations for government and business to progress the equity, diversity and inclusion agenda in the workplace.