On Brexit, Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:
“This is a timely reminder from the IMF - the risk of ‘no deal’ will mean “substantial costs” to the UK economy, as well as for EU countries. The Government must ensure the upcoming Budget has the fiscal flex to support the UK economy if needed.
“Efforts on all sides should be geared towards securing the Withdrawal Agreement to protect the transition period. This will provide temporary but essential relief for businesses of all sizes and sectors. Then attention can turn to the vital task of finalising our future economic relationship with the EU.
“The Government also need to help businesses – particularly smaller firms – plan for ‘no deal’ and the changes that will come when the UK does strike a deal. What all companies now need is a one-stop shop to get the information and support they require to protect supply chains and employees’ jobs throughout the negotiations.”
On domestic priorities, Carolyn said:
“While Brexit is the top political and economic issue of the day, it is only part of the picture. The fundamental building blocks of our economy are strong - from skills, to innovation, to infrastructure – and are firmly within our control.
“Action is urgently required to improve weak productivity growth, meet the needs of our ageing population and address lacklustre business investment. Business and government must work together to deliver effective industrial strategy to promote prosperity and raise living standards across the UK.”
On women and the economy, Carolyn said:
“IMF analysis is striking - raising women’s participation in the labour market to match that of men would boost output by around 5 to 6 percent.
“Gender pay gap reporting is an opportunity for businesses to drive change in their workplaces. There’s nothing more important for firms than attracting and retaining the best possible people. Firms want to close the gap, but with many of its causes lying outside the workplace, a partnership between companies and the Government is needed if we are to deliver long-term, lasting change.”