By Marcus Leach

In what is his final statement as Director General of the Institute of Directors (IoD), after seven years in the post, Miles Templeman said that he feels the current government has a clear business orientation but must make more headway.

He went on to say that the government’s approach to employment regulation was a prime example of having made no progress in reducing the regulation burden, despite some well-meant initiatives.

“Over the last seven years I have seen prime ministers, chancellors and especially business secretaries come and go," he said in his final statement.

"Some have understood the importance of the business agenda to the prosperity of the country better than others; and not everything government has done to business during this time has been unhelpful.

“I believe this government does have a clear business orientation. However, it has been very disappointing that successive governments have too often failed to turn their pro-business rhetoric into a comprehensive pro-business policy.

"The current government’s approach to employment regulation is a prime example where we have made no progress in reducing the regulation burden, despite some well-meant initiatives. If anything the situation is getting worse overall.

“Of course workers need adequate protections and retirement saving needs to increase, but the burdens on employers created by the Agency Workers Directive (£1.5-2bn), Auto-enrolment pensions (£3bn) and other regulations are massive and cannot be afforded, particularly at this time. The government should be helping businesses to create jobs, not hammering businesses with new rules.

“It is disturbing that despite repeated offers to the Business Department of practical suggestions to soften the impact of the Agency Workers Directive these suggestions were not implemented and the measure has been imposed with full force — and we know the British will enforce the rules. Hardly anyone in business really believes that regulation reduction measures like ‘one in, one out’ and the ‘red tape challenge’ are working when burdens on this scale are being imposed on business.

“If the government expects the private sector to create new jobs and compete with emerging economies in Asia and South America, we need to maintain and ideally improve our labour market flexibility. I do believe this government aspires to be business orientated, but the Agency Workers Directive and auto-enrolment pensions will overwhelm efforts elsewhere to stop the burden increasing. Ministers need to do much better.”

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