The CBI has warned that the -decisions made in the first months of the next government could make or break the UK’s reputation as the business location of choice.
Sir Digby Jones, director general of the employers’ group, called for a reduction in employment regulation so that UK companies could compete with Europe, America and the developing economies in India and China.
“The election victor must ensure that our flexible labour markets, the single most important factor in determining where globally mobile companies locate, are not eroded,” he said.
“As they decide how to vote on 5 May, company directors, managers and employees will be asking themselves which party is prepared to step up to the plate on the big decisions that will shape the business environment of the next five years.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Hawkins, -director general of the British -Retail Consortium, warned the prospective government that decisions about increasing the national minimum wage should reflect the economic climate.
“Above-inflation increases to the minimum wage are proving very difficult for both larger and smaller retailers to absorb in today’s trading conditions,” he said.
“Many retailers are being forced to take steps to offset some of these wage cost increases by cutting staff hours, jobs and benefits.”
Later this year, the Low Pay Commission will review the appro-priateness of its recommendation for a 6% increase in October 2006.
The commission will press for a “more realistic” outcome, Hawkins said.