CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn says mid-sized firms are the "missing link" in the British economy

Lauren Fedor
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Carolyn Fairbairn took over as CBI director-general earlier this month (Source: Getty)

Carolyn Fairbairn will use her first major speech as Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general today to call on the government to introduce new policies to promote medium-sized businesses.

Speaking at CBI event in London, Fairbairn will say that Britain’s 3,000 so-called “scale-up medium-sized businesses” (MSBs) contributed £59bn to the UK economy between 2010 and 2013.

Fairbairn will also claim that while MSBs make up only two per cent of British businesses, they are responsible for 1 in 6 jobs and generate nearly a quarter of private sector revenues.

“As a country, we’re good at telling the beginning of the story. The traditional story of ‘start-up Britain’, a single person, with a single idea and a single-minded determination,” Fairbairn will say.

“We’re also good at telling the end of the story. The story of ‘Brand Britain’ of big, well-known firms which people recognise and interact with every single day.

“Yet the ‘missing link’ is the most interesting part. It’s the part where entrepreneurs grow their great idea. Where they increase their profit, hire more people and expand beyond national borders.”

In a related new report out today, the CBI is calling on the government to “throw its weight behind” MSBs by reviewing the tax system to better incentivise entrepreneurship and business investment. The CBI also wants the government to raise the annual cap for “Tier 2” visas for employees from outside the European Union, something the business group says will improve MSBs’ access to skilled workers.

The CBI is also urging ministers to shortern the timeframe for the payment of research and development tax credits and push for standardisation of the European VAT threshold at €100,000.

Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio, group chief executive welcomed the CBI’s appeal, saying: “Medium-sized businesses are playing a critical role in the UK economy, in creating jobs and growth, and we are determined to help their continued success.”

Horta-Osario will also speak at the CBI event today, as well Labour’s shadow business secretary Angela Eagle.

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