Policy plans must create thriving environment, says Chamber chief

Sep 12, 2012



Chief executive Cheryl Smart MBE says that Mr Cable’s plans for  a  British Business Bank must be more than just a vehicle for existing government schemes.
Skills funding must deliver the training that companies in Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and the rest of the UK need in order to grow.
Mrs Smart (pictured) said: "His proposals around industrial strategy make an important contribution to moving Britain toward a new model economy. A successful industrial strategy is not about picking winners or losers but about creating the right environment for all businesses to thrive.”
The business bank proposed by Mr Cable had to be more than merely a vehicle for existing government schemes, she added. Businesses wanted policies that would help over the medium and long term as well as boost confidence now.
The government could do exactly that by addressing the problem of access to finance faced by so many of the UK’s firms, Mrs Smart said.
“A brand new, fully-fledged business bank is needed to lend to new and growing companies, many of whom report difficulty accessing finance. Companies are clear, though, that nothing less than a ‘full service’ business bank will do – a rebranding exercise for existing government schemes or one that uses existing bank infrastructure is not enough.”
The Employer Ownership pilots were an important first step to ensuring that funding delivers the training that companies need in order to grow.
Mrs Smart said: “We support a further expansion of this approach, with employers having a greater say in how training funds are spent. We have long said that the skills system is failing British businesses, with resources following the choices of individual learners, rather than the needs of business.
"The challenge now lies with Whitehall, which has a patchy record of bringing important policy ideas to life. The government must ensure we move from rhetoric to reality on key interventions such as a British Business Bank, or risk losing business confidence."
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