Business bank could bolster UK competitiveness

24th September 2012

Commenting on Vince Cable's speech to Liberal Democrat Party Conference, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:  "The business bank announced by Vince Cable could be one of the lasting legacies of this government, and a key pillar of UK competitiveness in the years to come.

While a £1bn commitment is an important first step, Whitehall must ensure that the business bank gets off the ground with an independent mandate and a mission to support growing companies.   -Six in ten Chamber members* told us just last week that they would feel more confident in securing finance if Britain had a government-backed business bank. Commercial banks should have a first right of refusal, but, as we have argued before, the business bank will eventually need the infrastructure to make its own decisions on loans, and its own channels to deliver funds to growing businesses.  -The government can also stimulate business growth with the introduction of a Growth Voucher scheme, open to up to 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses. The vouchers worth £5,000 would be offered to businesses, and allow them to access advice to help them grow. Advice could focus on issues such as exporting, HR, access to finance, marketing and help with the planning system. The scheme would generate activity in the domestic business services market, boosting business investment and the productivity and growth potential of small and medium-sized businesses.  -Vince Cable has listened to business' plea for greater long-term thinking in policy-making, and has set out some sensible steps that could help to improve the business environment in the UK. His proposals around industrial strategy could help move Britain toward a new model economy.  

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