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UK at ‘tipping point’ on taxes and regulation

John McFarlane FirstHigh taxes and the burden of regulation are threatening the attractiveness of the UK, the government will be warned tonight.

John McFarlane will use his inaugural chairman’s speech at TheCityUK’s annual dinner in London to warn that Britain is at a “tipping point”.

Mr McFarlane, who succeeded Sir Gerry Grimstone at the agm in September, will stress the need to eliminate disadvantages in taxation, levies, regulation and infrastructure that he claims are threatening the UK’s long-term attractiveness.

He will call for the UK to be open to the brightest global talent, to establish a business environment that achieves financial stability without stifling innovation and growth, and for the UK to play its natural role in leading a reformed Europe.

Managed correctly, he will say, the UK can “look to a future of greater certainty, innovation and hope”, specifically in areas of financial and related professional services, Islamic finance, Fintech and digital, global cyber-services, and the potential for mutual benefit in Europe – for the industry and customers alike.

The dinner,  at Mansion House, will also be addressed by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Mr McFarlane is chairman of Barclays Bank and a former chairman of Aviva and FirstGroup. He will say: “London is the world’s leading financial centre and TheCityUK’s priority is to keep it that way.

“We need to advance our strengths and eliminate disadvantages. Staying the same simply will not cut it. The economic balance of power is heading East and the technological revolution means business must strive harder to compete. It needs the support of Government to win.”

He will emphasise the need for regulation that achieves financial stability without compromising competitiveness and growth, and will call for Government and regulators to set in motion a review of UK regulation to assess its unintended consequences.

Mr McFarlane will also underline the longer-term threats to UK attractiveness posed by sector specific levies and surcharges, saying they “may have negative implications over the longer-term that we risk realising only when it is too late.”

Also high on his agenda is the need for the UK to create a culture that spurs innovation, is open to investment, fosters skills in our own population and seeks the brightest global talent. Mr McFarlane will say: “Now is the time to encourage the deep pool of talent so necessary to this country’s global success by removing barriers to intra-company transfers and welcoming the brightest foreign students.”

On EU reform, he will say: “…the clear majority of our members feel that staying in a reformed Europe is the right choice, not just for us, working in international markets, but for our customers here in the UK.

“It is imperative that we do our part in shaping the reform agenda that supports the Government here in the UK – and indeed other Governments – to create an outcome that the voting public can choose with confidence.”

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