New call for relaxation of immigration rules

The head of Britain's largest business organisation is calling on the government to urgently include immigration reforms when new economic policies are unveiled in Thursday's Autumn Statement.

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Tony Danker, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), urged Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt to take "tough political choices" to allow more overseas workers to come to the UK, warning that failure to tackle labour shortages would be “damaging in the short and long term”.
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Safeguarding growth through reforms

Mr Danker also warned that business would go into “hibernation” in a decade of no growth unless Mr Hunt matched tax rises in the Autumn Statement with initiatives to relax planning regulations.While he said CBI members accepted Rishi Sunak's government had to make tough choices on spending and tax, Mr Danker added that businesses feared Downing Street was not willing to face down backbench Conservative MPs on issues such as immigration and planning reform.“With fiscal and monetary policy tightening, we need many more pro-growth policies for our economy, if we’re to avoid a decade of no growth,” he said.Mr Danker said that, while Mr Hunt had pledged to set out a programme for growth on Thursday, it needed to be one that “tackles the real barriers we face right now”.At a time when the UK has more job vacancies than it has people registered as unemployed, Mr Danker added: “Not matching action on spending and tax with measures to tackle labour shortages and productivity is likely to be damaging in the short and long term. A desperate lack of workers is inflating wages and stopping firms growing."

CBI joins BCC on demands

The CBI is not the only business organisation calling for immediate changes to the immigration system. Last week, the British Chambers of Commerce demanded that the new government expand the Shortage Occupation List to make it easier for companies to hire the overseas skills they need.On regulatory reform, Mr Danker said: “Our planning rules allow local officials to hamper major projects we need. Our regulatory regime doesn’t do enough to incentivise investment and innovation."It is far more important to change that than partisan efforts to simply repeal EU laws which won’t make any positive difference to most firms.“The Autumn Statement will need to deliver the market stability the new Prime Minister and Chancellor have pledged since taking office. But while I have no problem with tough choices to deliver stability, I do worry that the government won’t take tough choices to deliver growth.“All of us need to accept now that with fiscal and monetary policy tightening, we need many more pro-growth policies for our economy, if we’re to avoid a decade of no growth.”

'Difficult decisions'

In a statement, the Treasury in London said: “Difficult decisions are needed to restore confidence and economic stability, which will help balance the books, get debt falling and grip inflation. This is the only way to achieve long-term sustainable growth.“The Autumn Statement on November 17 will set out our plans to boost growth, building on the UK’s globally competitive corporation tax rate and investment incentives.”

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