Labour leader Ed Miliband has hit out at David Cameron’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), accusing the Government of gambling with growth and jobs.
The Prime Minister set out plans to boost the economy at the CBI conference and promised a “forensic, relentless focus on growth”.
He told the conference that ministers would promote British business and help create conditions to encourage entrepreneurism.
However, Cameron has been criticised by both Miliband and unions, who say that he has no real strategy for growth.
Miliband said in his speech to the CBI this afternoon: “[The Government] have a programme which will lead to the disappearance of a million private and public sector jobs but no credible plan to replace them.”
He added that the Government needs to not only bring down the deficit in a way that ensures growth now, but should also try to understand the causes of the deficit and put in measures to prevent a recurrence of the financial crash.
David Prentis, Unison’s general secretary, echoed Milliband’s statement: “The truth is Cameron has no strategy for growth or recovery. He got it wrong when the banks failed, by opposing the bailout, and he’s got it wrong now.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber argued: “Some in government seem to think that public sector cuts will automatically spur private sector growth, but with cuts hitting both public purchasing and consumer confidence, it is more likely that the cuts will take down important parts of the private sector too.”
Barber suggested policies such as reversing the “short-sighted” cut in capital spending should be introduced if the Government wishes to avoid “a lost decade”.
However, some business groups have shown support for the Prime Minister’s plans.
Richard Lambert, CBI director-general, responded: “There was a welcome emphasis on the need to re-boot the country’s infrastructure with a coherent vision of what needs to be done over the next five years to secure economic growth.”
The EEF’s director of policy and external affairs, Stephen Radley, also saw the speech as positive, adding that industry will be encouraged to hear the Government’s proposals for growth and its support of industries where the UK has an economic advantage: “The Prime Minister is right to say that government policy can be used to support growth in areas like manufacturing and offshore wind where the UK is already strong and could be stronger.”
He added: “This isn’t always about money, but more about all parts of government pulling together to back growth sectors.”