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Lidington column: New Year offers chance to reflect on three key issues

David Lidington

David Lidington

  • by Aylesbury MP David Lidington
 

New Year is a good time to stand back from the day-to-day frenzy of politics and reflect on some of the longer term trends that are already affecting our lives and will do so further in 2014.

Here are just three.

First, the historic shift of economic power from developed countries to the emerging economies of Asia and Latin America will continue.

That in turn will mean even more ferocious competitive pressure on our own companies as they work to sell their goods and services to customers both here and worldwide.

But it also means new opportunities: millions of potential new customers in countries like Mexico, Indonesia and South Korea.

All political parties will need to identify ways to help British businesses compete.

Cutting red tape at both national and European level should be one priority.

Reducing business taxation and making it less expensive for employers to hire new workers is another.

Second, digital technology will add to the pressure, with computers able to carry out functions that firms have previously hired white collar workers to do.

Not even Buckinghamshire, with our historically good education record, can be complacent.

We will need our systems of education and training – and employers too – to be engaged in a constant drive for improvement.

It’s not just about equipping the next generation with the knowledge and skills they need, but also about enabling existing workers to adapt and retrain to changes in the employment market.

Third, both longevity and medical science will place yet more pressures on the NHS.

Already, cancer drugs are becoming both more effective and more specialised –targeted at relatively small numbers of patients with a particular type of tumour. The same trend is likely in treating conditions like Alzheimer’s.

While this is good news, it has a downside in terms of costs.

A small user base means higher costs per person treated.

So improvements in medicine can do will also mean we will have to think hard about how we finance and organise the NHS.

 

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