Commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference today, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:


“The Prime Minister was right to make the link between a competitive business environment, a strong economy and the resources available for delivering the public services people across Britain want. The continued commitment to balancing the books is absolutely right, as are the income tax cuts for promoting work, enterprise and aspiration. Overall, this was a speech that stressed the importance of the economy and didn’t duck the scale of the challenges we face.


“Keeping corporation tax low is important to the UK’s competitiveness – but so are the many taxes businesses pay before making a profit. To have a truly competitive tax system, the government must reduce and reform business rates, which remain the highest in Europe. We are calling on the next government to achieve the lowest business input taxes and charges by 2020.


“We applaud the Prime Minister’s focus on addressing the UK’s housing shortage, and his recognition that Britain needs to take on the vested interests of those who stand in the way of more homes being built. Businesses are used to hearing pledges on housing from all parties and the inevitable backlash from the nimbys, but ministers will be judged on how many new homes are actually built. In our Business Manifesto, we are calling on the government to be even more ambitious and support private sector construction rates of at least 200,000 new homes per annum.  


“Businesses are still waiting for clarity in a number of areas including energy and Europe. The next government will need to set out a 50-year plan for energy security, and be explicit on what its negotiating stance is on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.”