We can be an aspiration nation, but business needs more than just words from government

10th October 2012

Commenting on David Cameron's speech at Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: -David Cameron's speech outlined the Conservatives' desire to create an aspiration nation, based on enterprise, and wealth creation.

The Prime Minister is right to recognise that we need a new model economy, one that is based on a strong private sector, where businesses can grow and compete globally. A thriving economy is central to the UK's future. We cannot have a good education system, pensions, the NHS and public services without a strong private sector that creates the wealth to afford them. We support the Government's aim of deficit reduction, but this is not a growth plan in itself; we also need policies that will boost our stagnating economy. -Business can deliver for Britain, and the Prime Minister is right that this can be achieved by rebalancing towards hard work and enterprise. But the Government must also deliver, and so too must Whitehall. For too long political visions have been let down by poor implementation. -We can build an aspiration nation, but businesses need more than just words. Firms tell us they need less regulation so they can focus on running their businesses; a planning system that allows them to expand and grow; access to capital so they can invest; young people equipped with the right skills; and an infrastructure system that allows them to move around goods and people, and trade with the world. Businesses also want a common, open market for British goods in Europe rather than more integration and regulation that makes them less competitive in the world market. -The Government has just eight weeks to turn these words into actions, by delivering measures in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement that will help to create a new model economy. On education -We need to equip young people with the skills they need for the workplace, and the skills employers need, but this has to go further than new schools and new qualifications. We need a focus on enterprise in our schools with lessons in basic economics and financial skills so we can give our young people the confidence to become the entrepreneurs of the future. Boosting the number of apprentices, and providing quality careers education are also vital. The UK can learn from countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where young people can specialise at an early age. We need a skills system that values and funds all types of abilities, be they academic, technical or manual, as they are all critical for the success of the economy.

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