Responding to the launch of the Liberal Democrats economic plan, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Businesses will be encouraged by the scale of the Liberal Democrats’ economic ambition – building Europe’s largest economy over the next 20 years. Improving access to finance, developing the skills of our workforce and retaining the talents of foreign students are priorities shared by firms across the UK.
“We would also like to see the UK have the highest GDP per capita and businesses will be looking for the Liberal Democrats to outline further plans to grow Britain’s trade potential, support business investment and rebuild our ageing infrastructure.”
“The proposed ‘public interest test’ must ensure that any foreign takeovers are in the long-term national economic interest. If on the balance of probabilities, the deal will add no value to the UK economy or will significantly lessen economic value, it should be blocked or have legally enforceable remedies attached.”
On finance of growth:
“Access to finance remains a black spot on the UK’s record when it comes to young and fast-growing firms. While the proposal to expand the British Business Bank will go some way to addressing this issue, we need politicians of all colours to expand their ambition. Only a Business Bank, or an equivalent mechanism, with a capital base and direct relationship with businesses will provide the working capital and patient capital needed for firms to achieve their potential and grow to become the mid-sized businesses of the future.
“Dr Cable is right to focus on encouraging employers to offer apprenticeships. Yet the quality of apprenticeships matters more to businesses than the number delivered, because excellent apprenticeships will drive demand for apprentices in firms across the UK.”
On foreign skilled workers:
“To be a leading world economy, UK businesses need to have access to the best talent, whether it is from home or abroad. Eliminating the ‘cooling off’ rules for highly-skilled workers and re-introducing the Post-Study Work Visa for Masters students will help the UK retain skilled workers – ensuring British firms stay competitive on the global stage.”
“It should also be recognised that education of foreign students is a service sector “export” and a valuable part of our service economy”