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BCC:Sustainable recovery

Commenting on Business Secretary Vince Cable’s speech at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“From the start, this was a highly political speech. Rhetoric aside though, Vince Cable’s call for long-term sustainable growth will resonate with businesses across the UK. A firm focus on supporting investment and exports is crucial at precisely this moment.

“Companies of every size will appreciate Dr Cable’s commitment to improving business access to finance as Britain moves into recovery. He has been, and remains, a forceful advocate for reforming the deeply flawed structure of business finance in the UK. His views on housing will also be popular with business, as we have long argued that Britain needs to build more houses, rather than tinker dangerously with the mortgage market.

“It is legitimate for the Business Secretary to ask questions about the relationship between pay and productivity. But rather than hold a closed debate among academics and technocrats, ministers should start a national conversation with business on pay, training and progression at work. Britain’s productivity issues won’t be solved just by jacking up minimum wage rates.

“The current debate on zero-hours contracts is likely to become a storm in a political teacup. Just 4% of the British workforce is on these contracts, and only a minority of them have articulated concerns regarding their status. While it is right to stop abuse by any unscrupulous employer, it feels like a lot of political energy is being expended on a niche issue when there are far more important challenges to tackle if Britain’s economy is to go from good to great.”