CBI: ‘Time to kick-start confidence’ for economy

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BUSINESS groups today pressed the UK government to take “radical” measures in the Budget to boost economic growth and lift confidence.

The CBI, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and the manufacturers’ organisation the EEF all made submissions to Chancellor George Osborne with suggestions on how to keep tackling the nation’s deficit while helping firms to create jobs.

They all called for measures to kick-start the economy.

The CBI said the 20 March Budget should be fiscally neutral, but shift £2.2 billion from current spending to high-growth areas.

Director-general John Cridland said: “The government must stick to its fiscal plan, but now is the time to kick-start confidence.”

The BCC said it continued to support deficit reduction, but it warned a point might soon be reached where it became impossible without sustained economic growth.

It urged ministers to take “tough decisions” to reprioritise spending, including shifting money from unproductive areas towards measures that be delivered quickly.

The BCC called for 100,000 additional houses to be built by the coalition or housing associations south of the Border by 2015.

The programme would not apply to Scotland, because it is an area of devolved policy. But the Scottish Government would receive a lump sum from Barnett consequentials, which could be spent on new homes or shovel-ready projects.

Two other reports out today, from the British Chambers of Commerce and accountancy firm BDO, also call on the government to boost the housing market.

Katja Hall, pictured below, the CBI’s chief policy director, said the CBI felt the money for the array of initiatives could be found from efficiency savings and sales of land and buildings.