Find ‘consensus’, CBI boss urges politicians ahead of budget

The boss of the Confederation of British Industry will call on politicians to find “consensus” even as the next general election nears.

Rain Newton-Smith is to ask the two main parties to ensure that the next 10 years are not defined by “low growth and lost opportunities”.

Speaking later on Monday at a meeting held by the CBI, Ms Newton-Smith will reach out to the parties, asking them to work with businesses and help encourage sustainable growth.

“Despite all the division of recent years, there is a consensus around the need to deliver sustainable growth that improves people’s lives today, and those of future generations,” she will say.

“So, my call today to the Conservatives, to Labour – and every party campaigning in next year’s expected general election – is this: don’t let the story of 2024, and the decade to come, be a UK story of low growth and lost opportunities.”

Her speech comes ahead of the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt will also be speaking at the conference in a major boost for the CBI after dozens of members deserted it over sexual misconduct and rape allegations.

In April he said there was “no point” engaging with the industry body but has changed his stance following a change in leadership.

The CBI is calling for him to make permanent the “full expensing” rule which cuts up to 25p in tax for every £1 a company invests.

He should reduce economic inactivity and make sure that he follows through on commitments to speed up planning and electricity grid connections to help green growth, the CBI has said.

“Work with us, with business, to make this the UK decade of sustainable growth and opportunity. That strengthens our resilience to challenges now and in the future,” Ms Newton-Smith will say.

“Yes, elections are a moment for contrast and comparison – but economies thrive on consensus.

“So, let’s build momentum and confidence now by locking in cross-party consensus where it already exists.

“On tackling the economy’s productivity problem by boosting business investment through world-leading capital allowances.

“On fixing the foundations of our infrastructure by reforming the planning system to deliver a green transition. And on building a more resilient economy for the future by incentivising R&D spending.

“These are just some of the areas where all parties agree.”

Labour will use the conference to urge the Government to raise business investment, arguing that levels were 10% higher before the Conservatives took over.

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds will outline his plans to boost investment and promise Labour would “work hand-in-hand with business to give Britain its future back”.

“Labour is the party of business because we are offering you what you need – a strong economy underpinned by fiscal discipline with a plan to get Britain building again and ensure working people have higher wages and greater security,” he is expected to say.

Mr Sunak will also give his assessment of the economy in a speech at a separate event in London on Monday.