The Capital Economics 'Value of Jersey to Britain' report powerfully reinforced the close ties between Jersey and Britain and the value of Jersey to the City in particular. I am privileged to be a member of the CityUK Advisory Council and seek to support the City at every opportunity. A successful City means a successful Jersey and vice versa. At a recent council meeting I learnt of a new public initiative entitled 'The City Listens".17 February 2014
Just as Jersey values its links with Britain, The City places a significant premium on its relationship with the EU.
The CityUK has been encouraging its members to become more active in the dialogue about British membership of the EU. It has done this through an initiative called 'The City Speaks', but is now moving on to engage with the public at large on this important issue, through 'TheCityListens'.
Chris Cummings, CEO of CityUK explains:
"Following our milestone study "TheCitySpeaks" of views from the Boardroom on the question of EU membership, which found that a significant 84% of business leaders want to stay in the EU, TheCityListens is the next step in our comprehensive EU Research Programme, it comprises a public opinion poll of more than 2,000 people across all of the UK. This is the first in a series of regular tracking studies we will be undertaking into the public’s views on Europe over the coming year.
Conducted with Millward Brown, part of the WPP group, the poll conclusively reveals that the UK’s decision on staying in the EU or exiting will be most swayed by economic factors and what will create jobs, with most people (in particular the “Euro Undecideds” as the decisive middle ground where any referendum on Europe will be won or lost), wanting to hear far more from business leaders on Europe.
Topline findings from TheCityListens include:
The economy and unemployment are seen as the most important issues facing Britain at 74%. The issue of Europe currently ranks only 7th.
Fully 82% said they will give ‘a lot’ of thought to the potential impact on the UK economy; more so than other factors such as immigration.
A little under four in ten (39%) of people are thinking of opting-out and three in ten (33%) want to stay in Europe.
Of the “Euro Undecideds”, 61% say hearing from business leaders would be more important to them than any other group in reaching a decision on whether to stay or leave Europe.
42% or people thought that firms’ access to customers in other European markets would be severely impacted by leaving, the EU. Only 9% thought access would be better.
People also cited tourism (2.2% of GDP), manufacturing (10.1% of GDP), retail (5.6% of GDP) and financial services (7.9% of,GDP) as industries that will all be damaged by an exit from the EU. This is especially concerning as the total number of people employed in these sectors is close to 5 million and their combined contribution to UK GDP is 25.8%.
21% of respondents cited the decrease in the numbers of businesses setting up in the UK if the UK were to leave the EU as a key concern.
Those wanting to leave Europe give EU interference, immigration and costs as the main reasons.
It is clear from our study that the EU debate thus far has been too focused on opinions and not enough on the evidence. It is encouraging to see that the British public wants to hear more from business leaders in order to help them make an informed decision in the EU referendum. It is now important to make sure the business voice is heard so that the public is given the facts and evidence needed in order to make an informed decision."
It is interesting given the recent interim population policy debate in Jersey that for the UK at least the success of the economy and job security are very high on the agenda and the public want to hear from business leaders as to the impact of policies on business and employment prospects.
To that end we will be organising industry gatherings here in Jersey in the coming weeks in order to collate feedback on the key topics of the economy, employment and prospects for the finance industry. We hope that better information will lead to better informed policy making and that the value of the finance industry to Jersey as a whole can be better understood by all members of the Jersey community.