Details and industry reaction to Labour’s business manifesto

Launched at the London offices of Bloomberg, Labour leader Ed Miliband, flanked by shadow chancellor Ed Balls and shadow minister for business Chuka Umunna, declared: “Our plan is based on the idea that Britain can only succeed when all our businesses have the chance to succeed.”

Its ability to appeal to entrepreneurs of small businesses, and those at the helm of major corporates, will go a long way to determining how successful Labour will be when it squares off against David Cameron and his Conservatives on 7 May.

So it was fitting that on the same day Cameron visited the Queen at Buckingham Palace to officially inform her that parliament had been dissolved, Labour kicked off with a business agenda. Visiting the stage after Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindlay, Miliband started his speech by saying his party would work with businesses of all shapes and sizes to deliver a plan that “won’t risk jobs, exports and investment”.

It will also not, he revealed, “throw businesses into years of uncertainty” by leaving the European Union. He touched on British productivity levels, which are alarmingly low compared to European rivals, and indicated any economy would need “strong economic foundations”.

Read more about Labour:

Labour’s business manifesto has been broken down into a number of parts, each contributing to its “better plan for business”. We’ve summarised each of the sections for you.

Build a strong economic foundation:

  • Cut the deficit each year
  • Promise no new spending that will need further borrowing
  • Close tax loopholes
  • Stop handing out winter fuel allowance to richest five per cent of pensioners
  • Reduce waste through “zero-based review” of spending

Ensure open approach to the world:

  • Maintain membership of EU
  • Direct EU towards growth and jobs and reform its budget
  • Make sure fair rules on immigration are in place
  • Back international trade agreements that bring benefits to the UK

Back British business to create the high-skilled jobs required:

  • Keep “most competitive” create of corporation tax in the G7
  • Establish independent National Infrastructure Commission for infrastructure needs
  • Set long-term funding and policy framework for science and innovation
  • Back investment in low carbon technologies 
  • Stronger Green Investment Bank
  • Reform takeover rules and better link between executive pay and performance

Helps business access finance needed to grow:

  • Support small firms by cutting business rates 
  • Freeze energy bills
  • Tackle problem of late payment
  • Introduce a British Investment Bank to improve access to finance
  • Create industrial strategy to support high skill, export sectors
  • Devolve £30bn of funding to city and country regions

Tackle skills shortages:

  • Introduce new gold standard for technical Baccalaureate 
  • Give employers more control over apprenticeship funding and standards
  • Require every firm getting major government contract to offer apprenticeships
  • Create universal gold standard for apprenticeships 
  • Make new technical degrees the priority for university expansion
Miliband used his speech to leave a precedent for the rest of the electoral campaign. He said: “My case to you over the course of this general election campaign is that Britain can do so much better for you and your family.

“And this is a country we can only build together. A partnership for a purpose between government and business.”

“Supporting you to create long-lasting prosperity that reaches right across our society – from your firms to everybody’s front door. Sound economic foundations. Creating higher living standards for working families. Inspiring hope for young people.”

To find out how Labour and Miliband’s plans were received, Real Business secured the comments of a number of high-ranking senior business leaders. Their reaction was as insightful as it was mixed.

Please visit the next page to find out what each had to say.

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