22 September 2014

  |  CBI Press Team


CBI comments on Ed Balls speech to Party Conference

The CBI today commented on the speech by the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, to the Labour Party conference in Manchester.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:

"Business wasn't looking for any surprises and this speech sets out some of the foundations needed for long-term growth.

"Balancing the books is a given for whoever is in Government next, so the business community will be reassured by Mr Balls reaffirming Labour's commitment to fiscal discipline.

"On Europe, we are clear that we need to be at the heart of a reformed EU as it remains the UK's biggest export market. Labour's recognition that access to the single market is critical to protecting jobs and growth in the UK will therefore hearten business.

"With exports lagging, Labour's review should focus on what our competitors are doing right and how we learn from them to give British firms a leg-up.

"The UK is suffering from a chronic shortage of housing and though the commitment to build more homes is laudable, we need to see more flesh on the bones of Labour's delivery plan.

"Given the looming aviation capacity crunch, we have called on all political parties to get behind the Davies Commission and it's good news that Labour accepts the need for swift action.

"However, having served as a commissioner on the Low Pay Commission which introduced the minimum wage, I am extremely disappointed by attempts to politicise the body.  Setting the minimum wage should be left to the independent experts at the Low Pay Commission. Attempting to fix future levels now is finger-in-the-air economics which takes no account of the economic realities at that time, nor the ability of firms to pay.

"Instead, politicians should address how people move on in their careers, through training and better skills, helping them move to higher paying roles over time."