By John Cridland, CBI Director General
Tax and energy plans are a setback for Labour’s pro-enterprise credentials – and while house-building plans are laudable, we need the support of the builders themselves.
Businesses will view the proposals on tax and energy laid out by Ed Miliband in Brighton at the Labour Party Conference as a setback for Labour’s pro-enterprise credentials.
Rising energy bills are tough on families and businesses. But the proposed energy price freeze will deter much-needed investment and is at odds with Labour’s pledge to decarbonise the economy and create a million green jobs.
The main reasons that bills are going up is the combination of rising wholesale prices, the cost of policies needed to keep the lights on and the move to a low-carbon economy.
Meanwhile, the reductions in corporation tax have sent a clear signal that Britain is open for business, boosted investment and spurred job creation.
Mr Miliband’s proposal to reduce business rates has merit, but to do it for some firms, through an increase in corporation tax for others, is divisive.
Success for many smaller firms goes hand-in-hand with that of larger firms through supply chains and it’s important to remember that large firms employ ten million people. To be pro-enterprise Labour must speak for all businesses.
On house-building we have fallen woefully behind and the commitment to 200,000 homes a year is a great ambition. To achieve this we need house builders on board, not criticised for holding on to land when it’s not viable to build on it.
Employers want to take on more apprentices irrespective of the need to bring in highly-skilled migrants.
Mr Miliband also mentioned a sectoral approach to setting a higher minimum wage, which would be unworkable and hit smallest companies the hardest. Not all companies working in the same sector operate on the same margins.
The best way to raise living standards is through growth. It’s only when we start to see solid and sustainable growth that wages will pick up and people will start to feel better off.
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