Lobby calls for more state aid to businesses

Ben Southwood
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A PROMINENT business group this morning called for a radical Autumn Statement from chancellor George Osborne, asking for more money and support from the government.

The government should re-allocate £3.8bn spending from welfare measures towards supporting house-builders, growing firms, and business investment the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said yesterday.

“The chancellor’s Autumn Statement must include tough decisions to prioritise growth, without adverse effects on the government’s deficit reduction programme,” demanded BCC boss John Longworth.

“Our message to the chancellor is clear: business will lead Britain’s economic recovery, but needs targeted support and a confidence boost from government.

“Ministers must be bold and take some unpopular decisions, including a shift of resources from welfare spending towards crucial growth measures,” he claimed.

The proposals suggested include an £100m growth voucher scheme, which would hand out £5,000 to businesses with “clear growth plans”, in order to help them get access finance, increase employment and negotiate the planning system.

The BCC also wants the government to spend £100m on “unblocking” developments stalled due to the load being placed on rickety infrastructure.

It asked the government to introduce a new £1bn use-it-or-lose-it capital allowance for business investment, while encouraging capital to flow into infrastructural investment by guaranteeing investor returns.

And the government should add 100,000 to house-building targets, in order to provide necessary supply and stimulate employment in the construction sector, the BCC reckons.

To fund all of this the lobby group suggests policies including means-testing winter fuel allowances, letting inflation eat into benefits, or reforming child benefit.