CBI sets out "First 100 Days" plan for next government
23 March 2015 -
Business group urges party leaders to push ahead with decisions on spending, housing and EU to avoid post-General Election dithering
UK business leaders have issued recommendations for the first 100 days of the next government, to ensure that economic growth, investment and job opportunities will be maintained. Titled Best Foot Forward, the CBI report urges the next government to focus on pro-enterprise measures and to get on top of the country’s finances. Central to that process, it suggests, should be a Comprehensive Spending Review, coupled with a Parliamentary statement outlining the government’s fiscal rules.
CBI director-general John Cridland said that whatever the makeup of the new government, it must not be deterred from continuing the UK’s economic recovery. “Whether we have a majority, minority or coalition government,” he said, “we ask those involved to ensure that the period of post-election uncertainty is kept to a minimum. We cannot afford a power vacuum that delays urgent policy decisions and unsettles potential investors, so any new Cabinet must get down to business as soon as possible.”
Cridland warned: “if horse-trading is required to form a new government, politicians must not duck the tough questions just to reach agreement and risk undermining the recovery before the ink has dried. Much remains to be done to secure the UK’s economic future, and business wants to see a confident, new administration getting into its stride by taking action on the key priorities – including staying on top of the public finances, meeting the urgent demand for new homes and making progress on EU reform.”
He added: “For any incoming government to make its mark it needs clear delivery milestones in its first 100 days. Politicians tend to focus on the next big idea or initiative but business will judge success on the delivery. The ‘what’ is interesting but the ‘how’ you can deliver and make a difference is what really counts, even if sometimes that means sticking with what’s already working.”
In the first 100 days of government, the CBI says, the next government must:
1. Stay on top of public finances
“Start a Comprehensive Spending Review to make essential savings, encourage innovation and set out a path to further public service reform. Publish a business tax roadmap for the Parliament with a commitment to maintaining the UK as the most competitive corporation tax regime in the G20.”
2. Break the infrastructure gridlock
“Announce a new independent infrastructure commission, underpinned with legislation in the Queen’s Speech. Fully commit to implementing the final recommendations of the Airports Commission. Set out an ambitious, achievable reform agenda that will keep Britain in the EU.”
3. Outline a Europe-wide reform agenda focused on boosting jobs and growth
“Push for a swift completion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by the end of 2016.”
4. Give people a good start in life and get them into work
“Extend the 15 hours free childcare to all one and two year olds to help family finances and get people into work. Kick off a full review of 14-18 education paving the way to scrapping GCSEs and creating vocational A-levels.”
5. Don’t interfere with independent markets
“Give the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) a strategic steer for the lifetime of the Parliament that will underline, not undermine its independence. Commit to a ‘one-in, two-out’ approach to any new business regulation.”
According to CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall, the new government’s relationship with business would need to hit the ground running immediately, with expanding aviation capacity and scheduling the EU referendum at the top of the to-do list. “The new government must be honest about the challenges that still lie ahead,” she said, “and ensure that politics does not knock growth off-track. The decision on expanding aviation capacity cannot wait another five years, so the new government should commit to backing the final proposals from the Davies Commission.”
She added: “An independent commission could weave its way through the usual planning gridlock and set the wheels in motion on big projects that can deliver genuine 21st century infrastructure in the UK. Referendum or no referendum, politicians must set out a constructive plan to deliver change in Brussels, to get much of the continent back on its feet by securing growth on our doorstep in our largest export market. Business and the government of the day need a positive relationship for the best results to secure jobs and growth.”
For more thoughts about the priorities and expectations of business leaders in the coming year, read CMI’s recent Future Forecast report.
Image of Downing Street sign courtesy of Angelina Dimitrova / Shutterstock.
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