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CBI chief warns against another wasted year of ‘political paralysis’

The CBI also called for a new immigration system which provides access to labour and skills

CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn (John Stillwell/PA)
CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn (John Stillwell/PA)

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

A senior business leader is warning that the UK cannot afford another wasted year of “political paralysis”, while productivity and investment suffers.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said whoever wins the General Election, the top priority must be to work with business to provide “bolder, better and fairer” answers to the challenges facing the UK.

She launched the business group’s manifesto for political parties, which outlines steps the next government should take to unlock the UK’s competitiveness.

This includes reforming business rates, fixing the “broken” apprenticeship levy and completing vital infrastructure projects including HS2 and Heathrow expansion.

The CBI also called for a new immigration system which provides access to labour and skills, focuses on contribution, not numbers, and gives business time to adapt.

Speaking ahead of the CBI’s annual conference on Monday, Ms Fairbairn said: “The strength of the business-government relationship has underpinned the UK’s success for many decades.

“It has driven progress at home, from the building of the Channel Tunnel to the development of renewable energy to address climate change.

“It has helped to make the UK the leading destination in Europe for foreign investors, and supporting millions of jobs.

“But this relationship is being questioned. Too many people have lost faith in a system they don’t see working for them.

“In response, ideologies from both the left and right have emerged to fill the gap, pushing debate to extremes and offering superficial fixes to complex problems.

“Public faith in our politicians and institutions continues to erode, the historic partnership between business and government is under strain. Business investment has fallen for 18 months and productivity growth remains stubbornly sluggish. Confidence in the UK is faltering.

“This cannot continue, but it is within our power to change it.

“We simply cannot afford another wasted year of political paralysis, indecision and distraction while productivity and investment suffer.”

PA

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