BCC Comments on the Coalition’s first 90 days

Delivering for Britain: A Ninety Day Plan for Business GrowthThe British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has commented this morning on the Coalition Government’s first 90 days in power, reviewing the Government’s actions against points in the BCC’s own Delivering for Britain: A Ninety Day Plan for Business Growth (PDF).

The BCC states that whilst there are positive and encouraging decisions being made by the Coalition Government there a still a number of areas where urgent action needs to be taken before the end of the year.

The "ninety day plan", drafted before the May General Election, set 12 clear policy challenges for the Government in order to return the economy to good health:

  • Public Finances
    1. Publish a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit and restore confidence
    2. Freeze public sector wage bill and reform public pensions
    3. Measures to promote stable access to finance for viable companies
  • Infrastructure
    1. Avoid deep cuts to infrastructure projects that support business growth
    2. Stabilise and de-politicise the planning system, giving businesses confidence to invest
    3. Deliver a radical plan for next-generation business broadband to 2040
  • Employment
    1. Cancel the planned employer NICs rise – a ‘tax on jobs’ – in full
    2. Pledge not to implement any new employment laws before 2014
    3. Begin a systematic review of existing regulations affecting employers
  • Trade and Exports
    1. Prime Minister to set out a focused vision for an export-centred economy
    2. Strengthen UKTI based on the principle of national strategy and local delivery
    3. Introduce a short-term scheme to address market failures in export credit insurance

Government action on each of the proposals outlined was given up to three ticks indicating that progress was either "met or exceeded business expectations". The areas that achieved three ticks were:

  • Public Finances
    1. Publish a credible plan to reduce the budget deficit and restore confidence
    2. Freeze public sector wage bill and reform public pension
  • Employment
    1. Begin a systematic review of existing regulations affecting employer

However, the areas where the Government failed to achieve any ticks, in the opinion of the BCC, were:

  • Infrastructure
    1. Stabilise and de-politicise the planning system, giving businesses confidence to invest
  • Trade and Exports
    1. Strengthen UKTI based on the principle of national strategy and local delivery
    2. Introduce a short-term scheme to address market failures in export credit insurance

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, commented:

“This review shows real, balanced progress against nine of our twelve core objectives, so the Coalition’s overall progress after ninety days has been encouraging. Early action on deficit reduction and burdensome employment regulation has been strongly welcomed by business – and many of the measures in the Chancellor’s emergency Budget struck the right balance.

“However, business wants to see more progress in areas such as international trade and reform of the UK’s planning system. While the Prime Minister has led a trade mission to India, we have not yet seen the appointment of a dedicated trade minister, nor a focused strategy for a strong export economy. Many of the Coalition’s proposals on planning have also been disappointing, including the decision to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

“We challenge the Government to build on the good progress it has made over its first ninety days, and to look again at areas where it can do more to enable wealth-generating businesses to drive a lasting recovery.”

See the Ninety Day Plan full progress report (PDF).

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