MID TERM REVIEW - TIME TO DELIVER
January 7 2013.


Commenting on the mid-term review of the coalition government published today, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "When the coalition was formed in 2010, we said it would be judged on its efforts to promote business recovery and growth across the UK. Halfway through the government's term, the jury is still out.

"Ministers have made some important commitments, notably around controlling the deficit, creating a business bank, stripping back regulatory burdens on business, and reforming restrictive planning rules that can choke growth. These commitments have been welcomed by companies across the UK. In business, though, it's not the commitments you make, but what you actually deliver on the ground. The focus must now shift to delivery if the coalition government is to earn the long-term trust and respect of businesses across the whole economy.

"There are some bold measures that must be followed through if they are to have a real impact on the UK's growth prospects between now and 2015.

"The first is creating a business bank with the scale and reach needed for a once-in a generation change to address the long-term structural failure in UK business finance.

"Ministers must redouble their commitment to improve Britain's crumbling infrastructure, by removing the endless political risk that prevents private interests from investing and creating confidence, jobs and long-term growth. At the same time, they must ensure that planning reforms actually 'bite' on the ground, so that we do not hear of companies prevented from expanding by capricious local councils more concerned about winning the next election than they are about local prosperity.

"On the UK workforce, the government's top priority must be to ensure that the education and training systems deliver work-ready school leavers and avoid the permanent scourge of youth unemployment. The skills system, and apprenticeships in particular, must be more responsive to employers' needs. A new system of pre-apprenticeship 'traineeships' must meet standards set by business to ensure employers have the confidence to take on apprentices.

"Ministers must go further still on deregulation by stopping the flow of new regulations, not just here at home but also from Brussels, as these constant changes depress confidence and act as a barrier to growth for many firms.

"And finally, action needs to be taken immediately if we are to see the export-led recovery the government has been calling for by helping more UK businesses exploit opportunities overseas. Expanding trade promotion budgets so that more businesses get the crucial support they need when trading internationally is a good start, but why not go even further and introduce a dedicated Export Voucher scheme to support businesses on the cusp of exporting.

"I think it's fair to say that ministers know they have the consistent support of business when it comes to making the tough decisions that will underpin growth. But the policy changes needed are not just a temporary fix while we try and get our economy back on track. They are also critical to the long-term, sustainable growth the UK needs to remain competitive and a key global player. That's why it is important for the government to act now, so that in 2015 business and the rest of the electorate can make a complete judgment on what it has delivered on the ground."