CBI sets out youth unemployment and finance recovery plan

The CBI has demanded that any government in charge after the next electon should enact a 12-point recovery plan to help kickstart the economy.

As the conference season gathers pace with the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week, the CBI has insisted that the party that wins the general election, expected in June next year, must balance public finances by 2015, two years ahead of current expectations.

The budget deficit is forecast to reach £175bn this year, more than 12% of GDP. Both Labour and the Conservatives have been reluctant to identify how they will make spending cuts.

The CBI’s wish-list, titled New Government in Action: The Business Agenda, includes setting out plans to help the 947,000 young people out of work, and to develop a stronger, sustainable banking system.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “The major political parties really need to focus on the public finances, even though this requires tough decisions. They should make it their ambition to set out a clear, credible plan that would return the budget to balance by 2015.”

Cridland urged any party in power must enact the plans within 100 days in power. “We also emphasise the need for speed. A new administration should act quickly and decisively. This will not only put the right priorities in place quickly, but also help win confidence.”

He added: “Not everybody expects youth unemployment to be a particular priority for business, but we know from previous recessions that it can scar generations and create lasting problems for young people as they make the transition to the world of work.”

The 12 priorities spelt out in the CBI agenda are:

  • Set out a sustainable path for the public finances
  • Establish competitive business taxes
  • Develop a strong banking system
  • Prioritise energy security
  • Work towards a low-carbon economy
  • Develop the infrastructure for economic growth
  • Ensure a global voice for UK business
  • Skill students for the future
  • Tackle youth unemployment
  • Attract and cultivate enterprise and industry
  • Reform services to improve the economy
  • Address public sector pensions.

Cridland added that freezing the public sector wage bill could save £6.5bn a year, but stopped short of recommending specific cuts.

The Conservative Party Conference begins next week.

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