DAVID Cameron and Nick Clegg yesterday insisted the coalition would last a full five-year parliamentary term and said a range of policy announcements on infrastructure investment, childcare costs and housebuilding would form the basis of the government’s work for the next two years.
Despite this a leading business group responded by demanding the duo “go further, faster” and implement more radical reforms before the May 2015 general election.
“The government must redouble their efforts to enact radical reform across the board,” said Graeme Leach, of the Institute of Directors. “On tax simplification, slashing red tape and setting the private sector free to grow we need to see the coalition put the pedal to the metal.”
CBI director-general John Cridland agreed: “We don’t need a flurry of new announcements, but we do need to see the coalition’s ideas translated into action now.”
Speaking at a rare joint press conference to launch the part-appraisal, part-manifesto mid-term review document, the PM and his deputy insisted they were happy to govern in a coalition.
“It’s not a marriage, it’s a Ronseal deal, it does what it says on the tin,” Cameron said. “We said we would come together, we said we would form a government, we said we would tackle these problems, we said we would get on with it in a mature and sensible way and that is exactly what we’ve done.” Clegg agreed, saying this was the “unvarnished truth”.
Many of the policies in the mid-term review have already been announced, while details on other measures trailed in the 48-page document – such as plans to reduce the cost of childcare, an improved state pension and caps on care home fees – are expected before the Budget in March.
Meanwhile MPs will today debate the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill, which seeks to limit increases to most working-age benefits to one per cent. Last night Labour successfully tabled an amendment backing a jobs guarantee for the long term unemployed.
WHAT HAS THE GOVERNMENT PROMISED TO DO?
Set out detailed plans for public spending for the 2015-16 fiscal year before the summer.
Move as “rapidly as possible towards a national high speed rail network” by bringing forward legislation for High Speed Two.
Accelerate the road building programme and upgrade key roads such as the A1 to motorway standard.
Encourage private sector investment in infrastructure, especially the road network.
Backing for Airports Commission into additional capacity.
Cap care home fees for the elderly and help parents with the cost of childcare.
Create a £10bn debt guarantee scheme to support the construction of new homes to be made available for private rent or to buy at an affordable price.
Invest in action to cut down on tax evasion and avoidance, with the hope of raising an additional £2bn a year.
Strengthen consumer rights against energy companies and rogue bailiffs.
Introduce a register of lobbyists before the next election.
Reform the state pension to reward individuals who save for retirement.