Chambers of Commerce chief calls for ‘year of action’

British Chambers of Commerce chief John Longworth. Picture: Contributed
British Chambers of Commerce chief John Longworth. Picture: Contributed
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The head of one of Britain’s biggest business organisations has warned that the UK’s current economic performance remains overly dependent on debt and consumer spending.

In his new year message, published today, John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), argues that the government has yet to drive a much talked about shift toward manufacturing and exports.

After a year that included a number of “wasted opportunities”, Longworth is calling on ministers to make 2016 “a year of action”, to put the economy on a strong and more sustainable footing.

The group’s calls for action include a clear decision on airport expansion, “real reform” of business rates, an end to delays on key infrastructure upgrades, and a push to simplify business tax.

Longworth said: “At the start of 2016, neither ministers nor businesses can afford to be complacent. We may have solid levels of economic growth, but there are many clouds on the horizon that could ultimately push Britain into a new economic storm.

“It’s time to get real. The UK has been too reliant on consumer spending and asset transactions, driven by increased borrowing, for far too long, and this leaves the economy at risk.

“The government has to stop wasting opportunities to radically reshape the UK economy. It must take tough, and sometimes unpopular, decisions in the national interest without falling back on the excuses of consultation, delay, and political expediency.”