10 November 2015

  |  CBI Updates Team


Business Update - CBI Annual Conference 2015

The 2015 CBI Annual Conference heard from a range of political and business speakers under the theme Global ambition – Britain means business.

Business Update - CBI Annual Conference 2015

As the CBI celebrates its 50th anniversary, business leaders from around the country gathered at our annual conference under the theme of Global ambition – Britain means business. Joined by a host of senior business speakers and political leaders, including prime minister David Cameron, education secretary Nicky Morgan and Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny, delegates enjoyed thought-provoking keynote addresses, interview-led discussions and lively panel debates.      

Video: Catch up on all the sessions from the Annual Conference

Multimedia: How the day unfolded

Starting the day, John Cridland spoke of the four steps he saw as essential to delivering prosperity for Britain: a ‘scoring Britain’ that develops national championS, so that the next Facebook is grown here; getting education ‘right first time’; resolving our European destiny and making business the consumer’s champion. This was John’s last major address as CBI director-general, with Carolyn Fairbairn taking over the reins next week.

David Cameron set out the further progress needed to restore the public finances to balance. In this context, he justified sharing the burden with businesses to pay for particular objectives referencing the national living wage and apprenticeship levy. He also stressed that his EU reform agenda was targeted at securing a more “flexible” Europe, claiming that the status quo was “not good enough” for Britain.

The prime minister was interrupted in his speech by two student protestors from Vote Leave – the single issue political campaign seeking to take the UK out of the EU - who set up a fake company in order to gain access to the event. Read more about the CBI response here.

In his keynote address, CBI president Paul Drechsler emphasised that the UK needs to show strong business and political leadership to boost public trust, raise national productivity and seize global opportunities. Paul highlighted the positive role that business plays in society and, ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, urged the government to help business do more by doubling funding for Innovate UK by the end of this parliament.

He also stressed that important decisions on infrastructure must not be ducked, including extra runway capacity in the South East, and highlighted the crucial role that business will play in the EU debate, rebutting the tactics of Vote Leave and calling for the debate to be based on sober analysis of the arguments, rather than heated attacks on those making them. Paul also talked about the importance of trade in the EU debate, and the CBI has published ten facts about EU trade deals which you can find here

Enda Kenny outlined the important links between the Irish and UK economies, reminding delegates that Britain exports more to Ireland that it does to China, India and Brazil combined. He also spoke about new research that made clear “Brexit is not in Ireland’s economic interest” and Ireland’s willingness to consider David Cameron’s package of reforms.

Nicky Morgan acknowledged that exams are not enough to build successful students, and agreed with the CBI that attitudes and behaviours are as important as grades. She also acknowledged the role for employers in helping achieve this – through programmes such as the Enterprise Advisers scheme. She also took part in a discussion on raising ambition for all with EY UK managing partner for talent Maggie Stilwell, Yeo Valley Farms joint managing director Karl Tucker, Seimans PLC chief executive Juergen Maier and Inspiring Women Campaign founder Miriam Gonzalez-Durantez.

The conference also saw sessions on how businesses can become consumer champions, led by Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, on innovation with Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams, and disruptive businesses with senior business leaders including Uber, Virgin Money, Royal Mail, Whitbread, AirBnB and Amazon.

The conference was sponsored by strategic partners EY and Hays, and corporate partners BAE Systems, Barclays, JLL and Ricoh.

For more information, please contact: jon.harrison@cbi.org.uk