Twelve from 2012: a year at the CBI
Agenda-setting reports, unmissable events and lobbying that got results feature in our end-of-year roundup
During the past year the CBI has led the way on a range of key business issues, with agenda-setting reports, events that attracted the best of the UK’s political and business speakers - and focused lobbying that has ensured its members’ voices have been heard by senior decision-makers.
As 2012 draws to a close, we have put together – in no particular order - the highlights of a busy year for the CBI:
CBI Annual Conference
The CBI’s Annual Conference is always an event that demands that the business world sits up and takes notice – but this year’s event was particularly unmissable.
High-profile speakers included David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Uniliver CEO Paul Polman and Boris Johnson, who said of the November conference: “I’ve never known it to be quite so well attended and to generate quite so much media attention.”
More on the CBI Annual Conference 2012 >>
First Steps education report
Contributing to the success of the conference was the launch of the CBI’s First Steps report on education. Its recommendations - which were supported by the UK teaching community - included a focus on education to 18 and freeing up teachers so they are able to deliver the best results.
More on the First Steps education report >>
Colour of Growth report
Reinforcing the CBI’s position at the forefront of a business community ready to embrace low-carbon industry was its Colour of Growth report. It emphasised that economic growth did not have to be at the expense of green policies.
As the CBI director-general, John Cridland, said: “The so-called ‘choice’ between going green or going for growth is a false one. We are increasingly hearing that politicians are for one or the other, when in reality, with the right policies in place, green business will be a major pillar of our future growth.”
Pushing UK exports on overseas trips
Looking beyond the UK’s traditional export markets is more important than ever, and CBI leaders have been active in promoting connections between British firms and business leaders and politicians from a diverse range of countries.
This has included Mr Cridland leading, along with UKTI, a mission to Turkey in April and a similar visit to Russia in December; and deputy-director general Neil Bentley flying the flag for British business in Mexico in June.
Lobbying hard for action on infrastructure
It was not only abroad that the CBI was battling for British companies. On the home front, CBI leaders were pressing home the message that it was time for the government to deliver on those infrastructure projects it had announced.
In August Mr Cridland urged the government to “be Churchillian on the economy” and commit to “action this day” - while in November, ahead of the George Osborne’s autumn statement, the CBI director-general called for the spirit of London 2012 to be harnessed in a series of “industrial Olympics” – set-piece projects to get the ball rolling for growth.
Mr Osborne responded in his Autumn Statement with pledges to push ahead with projects including a Tube extension and the electrification of the Leeds to Manchester rail route, prompting the CBI chief policy director, Katja Hall, to say: “The Government now has everything to prove by delivering. Businesses need to see the Chancellor’s words translated into building sites on the ground.”
CBI infrastructure survey
The views of CBI members fed Mr Cridland’s strong words on infrastructure delivery – not least views expressed in our September survey. It said that businesses were concerned that critical infrastructure improvements were not happening quickly enough and that firms were keen to see urgent Government delivery on the ground.
More on the CBI infrastructure survey >>
Positive news from member firms
Despite challenging economic conditions, there was much good news from CBI members in 2012. This included BMW’s decision to invest £250m in its three Mini factories in the UK; a £267m investment by Honda in its Swindon plant; and Center Parcs creating 1,500 permanent jobs at a new holiday village in Bedfordshire.
CBI members have been given a helping hand towards generating even more good news stories by the organisation’s M-Clubs – a series of events at which mid-sized members meet to share expertise.
Playing Our Strongest Hand report
The CBI’s Playing Our Strongest Hand industrial strategy report said in October that a focus on several key industries where the UK has a competitive advantage over its international rivals would help to restore strong growth to the country’s economy.
More on industrial strategy >>
Bold Thinking roads report
Another key way of revitalising the UK’s economy is to bring its roads network into line with the needs of 21st-century businesses, the CBI’s Bold Thinking report, released in October, found. It set out ways of improving Britain’s roads – including setting up a Regulatory Asset Base (RAB) model to secure the private investment necessary to overcome the current funding gaps in the UK’s road network.
More on the Bold Thinking report>>
Creative industry ‘world-beaters’
The CBI has been trumpeting the strength of the UK’s creative industries throughout 2012 – and emphasising the strong contribution they make to the country’s economy.
At Sony’s London headquarters in June, Ms Hall, called the UK’s creative industries “complete world-beaters”. At the same event, singer Paloma Faith echoed the sentiment, telling the CBI that “British music is having another heyday”.
Public services report
Opening up more public services to competition could save the UK £26bn, a September CBI publication found. The Open Access report said that key savings could be made in areas such as social housing and school catering.
More on the Open Access report >>