Prime Minister David Cameron and Business Secretary Vince Cable have both made key speeches today at the CBI conference.
Mr Cameron set out a three-part strategy for growth, which crucially included direct reference to opportunities in the North East. His plan consists of:
- Providing a competitive environment – partly by stabilising public finances, creating certainty and reducing tax and regulatory burdens. However, he also acknowledged the importance of infrastructure and referred to publication of the national infrastructure plan.
- Getting behind industries where the UK enjoys competitive advantages. Here, he specifically pointed to green technologies in the North East, as he pledged £60m investment for offshore wind infrastructure at ports, with the Crown Estates working with businesses to realise this potential.
- Making it easier for new companies and innovations to flourish, including opening up access to finance and investing £200m in Technology and Innovation Centres. It is unclear initially how these will relate to the ‘innovation connectors’ which already exist in the North East.
The full speech can be seen here.
The PM’s speech is encouraging, building on the Government’s recognition of the opportunities in the North East for low carbon vehicles. However, NECC believes there needs to be capacity within the region to identify and back future growth opportunities, as doing this from the centre as the Government had previously signalled will inevitably lead to some of these being missed.
Mr Cable’s speech focused largely on the third part of this strategy, discussing the need to ensure a flow of credit through a stable banking system with adequate focus on the long-term, though there was little in the way of specific policy announcements to achieve this. He also spoke of plans to provide a streamlined competition regime and improve corporate governance framework (a review of which has been launched today). The full speech can be seen here.
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