By Claire West

The British Chambers of Commerce BCC has published results from a survey of sitting Members of Parliament that suggest many Labour back-benchers disagree with small and medium-sized businesses on the immediate steps required to drive economic recovery.

Questioned by the BCC and ComRes on measures that would lessen the burden of red tape on businesses:

•84% of Labour MPs surveyed disagree that a short-term freeze on new/additional employment regulations would help recovery and jobs;
•93% disagree that employment law has shifted too far toward the employee, to the detriment of the employer;
•66% do not believe there should be a limit on the number of employment law changes happening at any one time; and
•62% believe that Government does a good job analysing the potential impact of new employment laws on businesses before they are introduced.

All of these positions are at odds with the view of businesses, who say that a reduction in the number and sheer cost of new employment regulations must be achieved if they are to have the confidence to create new jobs.

On the positive side, Labour MPs agreed on the importance of infrastructure to business growth, with 67% of those surveyed agreeing that infrastructure spending should be maintained or increased. 99% also agreed that exports and trade promotion should be a high priority for the Government — a statement that small- and medium-sized businesses will also welcome.

Commenting, Adam Marshall, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the BCC, said:

“During the worst days of the recession, the policies adopted by the Labour Government — including the Enterprise Finance Guarantee — helped prevent many small- and medium-sized businesses from going to the wall.

“However, with Labour now in opposition, our survey shows a gap emerging between business and backbench Labour MPs on critical issues such as deficit reduction and employment regulation.

“We urge Ed Miliband to make re-connecting with business, both locally and nationally, a key priority of his early months in office. Economic recovery depends on improving business confidence, and making it easier — not harder — for companies to take new people on.”