CBI calls on next government to work with business

Marianne Curphey reports from the Confederation of British Industry’s Annual Conference on 18 November at InterContinental London - The O2.

CBI calls on next government to work with business
The next government must set the UK on course to tackle three major challenges: giving young people the skills they need, reducing the blight of inequality and tackling the climate crisis, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says.CBI director Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, speaking at the CBI's annual conference in London, warned of the dangers of extremism on both sides of the political debate, and said that too much time had been wasted when it came to Brexit."Whoever is in power after the election, the top priority must be to work with business to provide bolder, better and fairer answers to the challenges facing our country," she says. "We simply cannot afford another wasted year of political paralysis, indecision and distraction while productivity and investment suffer."

Political promises for business

The conference, which attracts business leaders from across the UK, also heard from both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about how they would push forward the Brexit debate and bring greater growth and prosperity for Britain.Mr Johnson said that he was not planning to further reduce the rate of corporation tax for business and he refused to be drawn over whether he was willing to make a commitment on entrepreneur's relief.Mr Corbyn insisted that Labour was not anti-business and pledged to fund 320,000 new climate apprenticeships for career changers if he led the next government.

‘Long-term solutions to long-term problems’

Dame Fairbairn warned against extreme political ideology on both the left and the right – and stressed how neither was helpful to the prosperity of the UK."Standing here as 2019 ends, I don't think the crossroads could be more clearly signposted," she says. "As a country, we could take the path of extreme ideologies - massive deregulation, on the right, or massive state intervention, on the left."She says the country needs "long-term solutions to long-term problems. Use the combined skills of enterprise and politics to set out clear strategies to make education fit for the pace of technology change, tackle the climate crisis, and ensure all parts of the UK can share in growth."She says it is important for government to help the UK business environment become more competitive and that good and responsible business should be championed. "Firms are showing, more than ever, than profit comes with purpose," she says. "Business is here to provide great jobs, invest in communities, and reach the expectations that society rightly has of them. This is already true of hundreds of thousands of firms across the country. Now it must be true of every firm."

Reforming business rates is a key priority

Dame Fairbairn welcomes Mr Johnson's promise to level up opportunities throughout the country through investment in education, infrastructure and technology, but said that his words needed to become "firm commitments"."Conservative commitments to unblock the pent-up potential of British enterprise will be welcomed by businesses that have faced an ever-growing burden of costs and uncertainty," she says. "Postponing further cuts to corporation tax to invest in public services could work for the country if it is backed by further efforts to the costs of doing business and promote growth."She adds that reforming business rates is a key priority for CBI members, as the current system is "broken" and is damaging investment and jobs.
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Mr Corbyn says he is looking to create a fairer society and that he will tackle late payments to small businesses, reform and reduce business rates and create better funding options for business. However, he raises the issue of higher taxes for top owners. "Labour will ask those at the top to pay their fair share of tax," he says adding that he proposes to end the "tax tricks" used by those large companies that manage to get out of paying tax.Dame Fairbairn says it is "time to see Labour open the door to real and lasting partnerships with business". She adds: "The challenge is not what Labour want to achieve, it's how. Firms share many of the same ambitions on skills, climate change, delivering high paid jobs and making sure that the proceeds of growth are felt across the country - but those challenges need a joint response."A high-growth, fair mixed economy is within our grasp, but only if business is welcomed and supported as a provider of opportunity, not falsely portrayed as the root cause of inequality."Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory