Business leaders and industry chiefs have lashed out at Prime Minister Boris Johnson for dismissing the “lived realities” of British companies after he delivered the concluding speech at the Conservative Party conference today.
In a policy-light but joke-heavy address, Johnson said the UK is barrelling toward a “high wage, high skill and low tax economy” by unlocking the potential of forgotten areas of the country.
However, industry chiefs blamed the Prime Minister for launching policies that are clamping down on businesses up and down the country.
“If this government wants a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy then it needs to stop hitting our 5.9m small businesses with high tax bills,” Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said.
“After a conference that’s been light on pro-business policy, it’s time for the party of enterprise to get back on the pitch,” he added.
Despite promises to narrow gaps between regions of the UK to “take the pressure off” the “overheating” south east, Johnson was criticised for offering scant detail on policies that will drive the government’s “levelling-up” agenda.
Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said: “The PM has only stated his ambition on wages. This needs to be backed up by action on skills, on investment and on productivity.”
A toxic combination of soaring energy, staffing and logistics costs is stalling British businesses’ recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
“The economic recovery is on shaky ground and if it stalls then the private sector investment and tax revenues that the Prime Minister wants to fuel his vision will be in short supply,” Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, warned.
Conversely, households are in the teeth of a cost of living crisis, fuelled by an explosion in natural gas prices likely triggering a rise in energy bills, elevated inflation, looming tax hikes and petrol shortages.
“Taxpayers deserve to know how the prime minister plans to get to the economy of opportunity he talks up. If Boris wants to build back better, he needs to set out a roadmap to cut taxes, raise living standards and boost growth,” John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said.