With the general election campaign in the home straight, the three main political parties have made their bids for the business vote, all promising to ‘cut red-tape’ if they come to power.
According to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour is the “party of enterprise”. They have pledged to boost UK industry by introducing a manufacturing skills aca-demy and by increasing the number of apprenticeships to around 300,000.
Blair said the economy is a central issue for the election, especially now that countries such as India and China are competing with the UK on skills as well as costs. “Between them, these two countries produce 125,000 computer science graduates every year, more than twice the number in the whole of the EU,” he said.
Blair said that Labour would encourage less business regulation, with one million fewer inspections of business.
As well as planning to cut red tape, the Conservatives, interestingly for HR, have pledged to scrap compulsory Operating and Financial Reviews (OFRs), a regulation that could allow HR to report its positive impact on companies.
Shadow industry secretary Stephen O’Brien said the Tories were opposed to “a compulsory measure that would increase liabilities, reduce entrepreneurship and slow economic growth”.
The Tories also pledged to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business, to deliver lower taxes and a stable economy with low interest rates.
Launching the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto for business, Malcolm Bruce, the party’s trade and industry spokesman, pledged to “free British businesses from government interference by abolishing the DTI, and to lower the burden of taxation on small and medium enterprises through a new business rates allowance”.