Business West urges Cameron to turn his conference words into action

October 2, 2013

The Government must show ambition and get moving on economic expansion, Business West, the organisation that runs Bath Chamber of Commerce, said this afternoon.

Responding to David Cameron’s speech at the Conservative Party conference today, Business West managing director Phil Smith said: “It is encouraging to hear the Prime Minister put enterprise, wealth generation and aspiration at the forefront of his speech.

“This will strike a chord with businesses of all sizes, as only business growth can propel Britain’s economy from being just good to being truly great. However, fine words demand fine deeds and business will want to see ambitious and rapid actions from the Government particularly in getting British infrastructure fit for purpose.

“We also support his mission to ensure that everyone under the age of 25 is either ‘earning or learning’, as we cannot allow Britain’s next generation to be left behind.

“If the 18 months until the next General Election are spent on ensuring fiscal discipline, improving infrastructure, helping businesses access capital, training up our young people and supporting our exporters, the Prime Minister's vision is achievable. But if our political class descends into cheap electioneering and giveaway politics, it will have wasted a once-in-a-generation attempt to build a strong new foundation for economic growth.

“David Cameron has set out a clear vision. But having got this far we need the Government to keep its foot on the accelerator – focusing on creating an environment that supports enterprise and puts economic growth at its heart.”

On Monday Business West joined the British Chambers of Commerce in calling on the Government to ‘get moving’ and deliver pro-growth policies to benefit the nation as a whole.

The hard-hitting message, which contained seven action points to strengthen the economic recovery, was delivered on the opening day of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Mr Cameron's speech today closed the conference.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) urged the Coalition Government to be ‘pro-enterprise’ as well as improving infrastructure, boosting exports, recognising the importance of skills and securing energy supplies.

Mr Smith said it was right to urge Conservative ministers to ‘show more ambition’ this week for Britain's growth prospects – to help transform economic performance from being merely good to truly great.

He said: “My message to Government is this: for goodness sake, get on and do what is in the long-term national interest. This won’t always be straightforward, but it should be at the forefront of government thinking at all times. Only a relentless focus on supporting economic growth will guarantee a secure future for generations to come.

“Britain's economy is improving, but we are not out of the woods just yet. We still face some deep-seated structural problems that require a laser-like focus from politicians, who need to show more ambition for Britain’s growth prospects.

“David Cameron and George Osborne have made a number of pro-growth commitments that have struck a chord with business. Yet we should be impatient at this critical moment in our history and the economic cycle. The Government needs to get moving on its promises, rather than just talking the talk. If ministers allow short-term politics and Whitehall obstruction to frustrate the delivery of their growth commitments, our recovery – and our economic future – will be poorer for it, and could be permanently damaged.”

The BCC’s seven areas where the Prime Minister and Chancellor need to follow through on their pro-growth promises are:

  • Delivering business-critical infrastructure – roads, rail improvements, HS2, airport capacity, digital infrastructure and long term energy security, far more swiftly to underpin business investment
  • Committing to a step-change in support for exports and global trade, by prioritising real help for exporters in all future spending and tax plans
  • Fixing Britain's broken business finance system, with the Business Bank scaled up to make a real difference, working directly with high-growth SMEs
  • Recognising the importance of research, education and skills in a knowledge based economy, to ensure employment opportunities and the development of our future skills base
  • Securing our energy supplies for the future – with go-aheads for new nuclear and fracking, alongside renewables
  • Reforming or re-negotiating Britain's place in the European Union, minimising lengthy delays that generate uncertainty for businesses
  • Delivering a tax and regulatory system that promotes enterprise. The Government has made great strides on reducing red tape and lowering Corporation Tax. But it must act, swiftly, to address the iniquitous business rates regime that is stifling the growth and confidence of companies across the UK, and go still further to incentivise investment and entrepreneurship.


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