CBI demands more state aid for businesses

Tim Wallace
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A NEW industrial policy would help the economy grow by boosting exports, a leading business group claims in a report out today.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said it does not want the government to return to a policy of “picking winners” – but it does think some support for selected industries would help create economic growth.

Support for sectors including aerospace, car manufacturing, green technologies, creative industries and pharmaceuticals could give the economy a £30bn boost through exports and create a trade surplus.

It argues for a long-term drive to make sure the government works with big business to suit companies’ needs better – for example in education and infrastructure.

The group complains that the liberalisations of the 1980s mean the government no longer helps big firms. It stops short of asking the state to invest directly in businesses or set up firms, warning this could repeat the failures of industrial policies of the 1960s and 1970s.

But it calls for more indirect action to increase growth in certain sectors – for example by using regulation to force households and firms to buy from green energy suppliers, or giving grants to those who adopt new technologies early.