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CBI responds to Labour 2015 election manifesto

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said, “Keeping the UK economy on track over the coming years will be critical for whichever party is successful at the general election. 

“As healthy public finances are a prerequisite for a successful economy, the Labour Party’s focus on fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction are welcome – and business will want to see clear timescales for achieving this.

“Labour’s manifesto includes a number of proposals that are positive for business, including remaining within a reformed EU, establishing an independent infrastructure commission, and focussing on skills. But market interventions in labour and other specific sectors, together with signals on corporation tax, are a cause for concern.”

On EU membership, he said, “The focus on EU membership chimes with the view of most businesses, who are clear that our economic future is best served by remaining within a reformed EU and working with allies to achieve this.”

On infrastructure, he said, “We support the creation of an independent infrastructure commission, which we’ve long argued will help unlock vital long-term investment.”

On keeping a flexible labour market, he said, “Businesses do have concerns around policies that could undermine our flexible labour market, which helped keep the wheels of the economy turning during the recession by supporting job creation. For example, forcing firms to give fixed contracts after 12 weeks to staff who have signed up to flexible zero hours contracts will create fewer opportunities for people to move on from lower paid work.

"When it comes to setting the National Minimum Wage the independent Low Pay Commission, not politicians, should be in the lead to ensure any increases are affordable.

On market interventions, he said, “The independent Competition and Markets Authority already has a mandate to ensure markets are working for customers, and its work should be allowed to continue unhindered, free from political interference.

“Proposals to separate the generation and supply businesses of the Big Six energy companies pre-empt the CMA’s independent investigation.”

On education and skills, he said, “We back boosting vocational skills and beefing up careers advice. These will help people into higher skilled, higher paid jobs and ensure growth works for everyone.”

On tax avoidance measures, he said, “HMRC must have the right powers and resources to tackle tax evasion and abusive arrangements. But an arbitrary target for tackling avoidance and poorly targeted legislation may prevent HMRC from carrying out its job effectively.”

On business taxes, he said“Business rates reform is long overdue, but quick fixes funded through a rise in the Corporation Tax rate would undermine progress to make the whole tax system more competitive and send the wrong signal to firms of all sectors and sizes.”

13 April 2015

The CBI has recently published Best Foot Forward, an action plan for the first 100 days of the next Government to keep economic growth on track.

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