Let business fuel the recovery, government told

Businesses must be given the freedom to create jobs and to drive the economy, a leading business group has said.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has set out its plans for economic recovery in a manifesto aimed at the political party conference season.

The BCC manifesto, which details a series of business policies for the next Parliament, argues that the next government faces three fundamental economic challenges: tackling the legacy of the deepest recession in decades, reining in public spending, and identifying future sources of economic growth and jobs.

To meet the challenge, the BCC has called on the government to avoid more tax and regulatory obstacles. The manifesto says that any new employment legislation will distract firms from their main task of creating wealth for the economy and proposes a moratorium on new employment law. The planned 2011 rise in National Insurance increase should also be scrapped, with the BCC declaring it a tax on jobs.

The BCC also wants to see a rebuilding of the UK’s infrastructure. Although public finances are under severe pressure at the moment, the BCC is backing new spending on essential infrastructure projects. The government, the manifesto proposes, cannot just look at ring-fencing health spending, when it is investment in transport, IT and energy that will drive productivity and recovery.

A third core plank of the BCC manifesto involves a rebalancing of the economy. Rather than relying on financial services and the public sector to fuel the recovery, there must be a stronger focus on international trade and enterprise in both manufacturing and services. According to a recent BCC survey, just 31 per cent of companies exported last year, a proportion the business group described as too low.

David Frost, the BCC’s director general, said: “The UK’s 4.5 million private businesses, not the public sector, will lead this country’s economic recovery.

“To make this happen, future governments – from whatever party – must focus on rebuilding our infrastructure, simplifying and reducing the red tape burden, and promoting overseas trade. The BCC will work with government to achieve these aims – and to deliver the economic growth we all want to see.”