Fashion Roundtable Despatch November 2017
POLITICS • ECONOMICS • BUSINESS
The great disappearing act has been reimagined this month, as Parliament continues to chase the Brexit impact assessments that were promised via the Andrew Marr show last month.
The Brexit Select Committee is particularly keen to view the assessment and use their predictions to support their likely upcoming report.
Legal basis to trade
The Secretary of State for International Trade once again reconfirmed his commitment to transfer the legality currently outlined in EU free trade agreements, which we enjoy, post Brexit. This should avoid trading disruption after exit day in March 2019.
None to report - our work continues.
Observations: Prof. Piet Eeckhout
Prof. Eeckhout is the Dean of UCL Law, specialising his research and work in EU Law. He met with Fashion Roundtable to offer his rich insight and knowledge into the legal basis of Brexit and the key challenges it may face. On the current state of play, he had this to say:
"How the EU does trade policy with the rest of the world is something which, in my opinion, the UK Government has limited political experience in. Since the EU referendum, the UK Government has shown an utter lack of awareness of how EU Law operates.
Theresa May is an expert in one area, from her role as Home Secretary and in the Home Office. She wants to bring immigration down and therefore is focused on that brief. However that is only one area of EU-UK cooperation. BUT the UK already had a bespoke deal with the EU that engages with this key policy area.
The UK Government is going to have to be far more flexible as negotiations progress if they want to make this a success."
The Budget 2017
Occupying its new place in the Autumn, the Budget this year exposed serious fragility in the UK economy, particularly on the supply side. The Chancellor also included key fiscal measures to attempt to ameliorate the impact of Brexit on the UK economy, particularly covering for the event of a ‘no-deal’ outcome from the negotiations.
Productivity, in particular, proved to be a key issue that the Chancellor sought to address, after 7 years of stagnation.
Crucial for the fashion industry, as touched upon in our previous monthly pack, is the commitment to creative education in school and beyond. Many graduates don’t have the full package of skills required to compete in a highly saturated Labour Market, and don’t posses the financial security in order to pursue the training themselves. Absent from this budget was any direct support for that, although the boost for the housing market may go some way to reducing the rent dependency on young people.
A key positive from the Budget was the Chancellors renewed commitment to regional development and support for the Northern Powerhouse. A key focus of our work here at Fashion Roundtable is on the better distribution of the financial success of fashion around the whole country, rather than focused in city blocs. We are hosting a series of talks in the new year around the Country and will feed the insight we gain from these into the Treasury’s policy process and also to BEIS as they continue to develop their industrial strategy.
There was also good fiscal news, as the tax-free allowance is set to be raised to £11,850, giving young people and low earners more income liquidity and more disposable income. This should help demand for high street products, particular in-between the seasonal highs.
Raw Power Movement
This space will continue to feature important campaigns that we are working with here at Fashion Roundtable. This month the spotlight is on RawPowerMovement, a grassroots movement that challenges social injustice and the politics of fear, bringing power to a new generation of activists.
The campaign launched at Somerset House in November with a powerful 24 hour exhibition, which Fashion Roundtable attended. The launch event was in partnership with Dazed magazine and featured a live performance by Gaika.
A senior figure at RPM said: "As a direct response to these tumultuous conditions, all oppression is interlinked, and if you’re not fighting it, then you’re part of the problem”
The movement aims to “provide people a safe space and the support they need to become more politically engaged... It’s about knowing that someone has your back”
You can find out more about this amazing group here.
Macron's Labour Laws Hit
One of Emmanuel Macron’s firmest pledges during his tidal- wave Presidential campaign, was to dramatically alter France’s Labour laws. In September and October he began to make these laws, circumventing Parliamentary scrutiny in the process.
This month we are beginning to see the first signs of any outcomes from the changes and from the perspective of the fashion industry, the changes should be welcomed.
Despite ardent opposition from Trade Unions and large workers groups, the changes are improving fluidity in the labour market, something the fashion industry benefits from. Long term contracts tie fashion workers into businesses and projects that may not be efficient and can limit their ability to do accompanying part-time work.
As one of the ‘homes of fashion’, France could become even more attractive for big fashion businesses in the coming months, as the true economic effect of the changes become tangible.