Commenting on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP’s speech at the Labour Party Conference, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“While there were some bright spots, Jeremy Corbyn missed a golden opportunity to extend an olive branch to British business, big and small alike.
“Labour must work more closely with businesses to transform the economy to the benefit of people and communities across the UK. Success depends on a partnership between business and government, not dictation or dogma.
“Over recent days, businesses have heard plans for an unprecedented overreach into ownership and governance, talk of higher taxes on both companies and individuals, and commitments to sweeping nationalisation. If all these proposals were to be implemented, there would be a serious impact on business confidence, investment and growth, which ultimately would hurt the very people and communities that need support the most.
“Whilst proposals to boost the green economy and to bring more people back into the workforce through enhanced childcare support are welcome, the overall wind coming from Labour toward business is a decidedly cool one. Businesses will rightly be asking how all of Labour’s proposals will be funded – and the answer cannot be to treat the businesses that drive our towns and cities as a cash cow.”
The British Chambers of Commerce has consistently called for ways to boost childcare provision, including a study to look at universal childcare up to school age.
On the childcare measures, Adam Marshall added:
“At a time of increasing skills shortages, it is vital that all avenues are considered to keep committed employees in the workforce after they become parents. Firms lose a great deal of talent – mostly women – because of the cost of childcare. Families feel the cost most acutely before children start school, and attempts to reduce costs here will be warmly welcomed by families and businesses alike”
On the green economy, he added:
“We have consistently called for a more mission-driven approach to the economy with big, radical goals that business, government and the public can all get behind. Jeremy Corbyn is right to propose a comprehensive programme of green energy investment, which could have very real benefits for business, for communities and for the environment. The challenge is for Labour is to demonstrate how to transform these promising ideas into a deliverable plan that our business communities can get behind.”
On Brexit, Marshall said:
“The responsibility of Westminster politicians to answer the practical, real-world questions businesses have on Brexit has never been greater. Business needs action in the national interest, not political self-interest. At this pivotal moment, both Labour and the Conservatives need to put politicking to one side – and put the economy, jobs, investment and prosperity first.”