Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Party leaders tell the CBI how they will sustain growth

Mr Brown says he will continue to make investments in growth and skills

Political party leaders in the UK have been telling business leaders at the CBI conference how they will get the UK out of recession.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned against withdrawing financial support for the economy too soon.

But Conservative leader David Cameron says the huge budget deficit must be brought down quickly.

Meanwhile Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg wants "to shape a new competitive, sustainable economy for the long term".

Speaking to the CBI delegates, Mr Brown pledged to keep the country's fiscal support measures in place long enough to sustain economic recovery.

He also said the government would be careful not to abandon financial stimulus measures brought in to combat recession.

"Choking off the recovery too soon would be fatal," he said.

Mr Brown also told business leaders the UK had to be "truly competitive" to succeed in the global economy.

'Inward investment'

He wants to see a big increase in the number of Chinese companies working in the UK, rather than the current level of about 400.

"We need an outward-facing Britain that can attract large scale inward investment and sustain high value added jobs."

David Cameron
The Conservatives would introduce an emergency Budget if elected

Plans to help entrepreneurship in Britain were also outlined.

Mr Brown promised that the UK would lead the world in fast broadband by 2012, increase nuclear energy capacity to help the country achieve its low-carbon aims, speed up planning permission for infrastructure and invest in skills and science education.

When Conservative opposition leader David Cameron addressed the CBI members, he stressed the importance of dealing with the public deficit.

He said: "Tackling the deficit is not an alternative to economic growth - it is part of the solution".

Stephanie Flanders
After months of austerity talk, David Cameron does need to show he cares about growth after all
Stephanie Flanders, BBC economics editor

Mr Cameron added that if it was not dealt with, it would risk Britain's creditworthiness.

He said: "That's the greatest single risk to sustained economic recovery. It threatens higher interest rates. Lower investment. Higher unemployment. A recovery stopped in its tracks. Even the risk of tipping back into recession."

Mr Cameron also pledged that, if his party wins the election, he would lay out an emergency budget within 50 days of the election.

Dismissing Labour as being the party of big government, Mr Cameron said his approach would be to get out of the way of business and let wealth creators drive the country out of the recession.

'Highly vulnerable'

Also addressing the congress earlier, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, emphasised the need for more competition in the banking sector as well as the importance of splitting investment and retail banks.

He reiterated plans to introduce a temporary 10% tax on banks.

Nick Robinson
Two speeches at the CBI this morning from the two men who want to be in No 10 after the election with one message in common
Nick Robinson
BBC political editor

Mr Clegg said there must be a wholesale shake-up of the tax system to benefit "ordinary working people". But he stressed he is proposing a "a tax switch and not tax rise".

Meanwhile, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, told delegates that British jobs will continue to be lost until well into next year.

Mr Strauss-Kahn said that although the worst of the economic storm had passed, the world economy is still "highly vulnerable".

Key areas

The CBI itself said the recession had become the catalyst for a new era in business.

A study by the employers' group identifies four key areas of UK business where new ways of working could develop because of the downturn.

They include more flexible workforces, greater collaborations among businesses and wider financing options.

"The Shape of Business - The Next 10 Years" is being launched ahead of the CBI annual conference in London later.


The recession has raised concerns about commercial models, supply chains and finance that will reshape business behaviour well into the next decade, according to the CBI, which represents 240,000 UK businesses.

Its study suggests:

  • Businesses look to alternatives to protect investment and innovation
  • Companies look at their approach to working with partners and even competitors to stop future "domino effect" of supply-chain failures
  • Sustainability and ethics could become more integrated into the business model. Firms should seek to improve accountability to attract and retain customers and staff
  • A more flexible workforce should evolve with some firms that might mean a smaller core workforce and a larger, so-called flexiforce.

Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, said the UK may be poised at the edge of a new era for business.

"Attitudes to finance and to corporate leadership are changed for a generation by the shock of the past two years," he said.

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