Government promises plans for growth

The government has outlined plans for £200 billion of investment in infrastructure projects in the UK as part of a strategy for economic growth and recovery. Addressing the CBI conference, the Prime Minister, David Cameron said that the national Infrastructure Plan would see a combined public and private sector fund of £200 billion going into improving the UK’s transport, energy and communication network. The coalition government has already committed £30 billion to new transport projects. It is hoped that the remainder of the money will come from private sector investors. The government will put £200 million into a series of technology and innovation centres over the next four years in an effort to create a bridge between scientific developments in UK universities and businesses able to bring such advances to the commercial market. The government is also to provide up to £60 million to pay for offshore wind infrastructure to help boost the UK’s role in the industry. Mr Cameron said: “To help secure private sector investment in this technology, we are providing up to £60 million to meet the needs of offshore wind infrastructure at our ports.” The Prime Minister used the speech to balance the cuts announced in the comprehensive spending review with a strategy for growth. The growth strategy came in three parts: creating the conditions for enterprise investment; supporting industries where the UK already holds a competitive edge; and enabling new, innovative firms to start and flourish. Mr Cameron said: “In the weeks and months ahead, ministers will be developing detailed plans to turn this strategy into action. “Everything – from bank lending to skills, green tech to high tech, competition to innovation, international trade to local growth – will be put under the microscope. That forensic, relentless focus on growth is what you will get from this government. “What I need in return from you is a commitment to create and innovate, to invest and grow, to develop and break boundaries. The new jobs, the new products, the new ideas that will lift us up will be born in the factories and offices you own – not in the corridors of Whitehall.” The Prime Minister continued: “To build that new dynamism in our economy, to create the growth, jobs and opportunities Britain needs we’ve got to back the big businesses of tomorrow, not just the big businesses of today. “That means opening up access to finance, creating an attractive environment for venture capital funding, getting banks lending to small businesses again and insisting that a far greater proportion of government procurement budgets are spent with small and medium-sized firms. “In the days and months ahead we will be setting out our plans in all these areas.” Of the technology and innovation centres, Mr Cameron said: “These centres will sit between universities and businesses, bringing the two together. “They won’t just carry out their own in-house research, they will spread knowledge too, connecting businesses – large and small, new and old – to potential new technologies, making them aware of funding streams and providing access to skills and equipment. “These centres will be great for research, great for business – and they’re going to put Britain back at the top table for innovation.” Mr Cameron said the government wanted to help increase competition and remove barriers to enterprise. He reminded his audience of the tax cuts – large company corporation tax is to drop from 28 per cent to 24 per cent over the course of the current Parliament – and the changes to the regulatory regime – the one-in, one-out policy for new business rules – that have been designed to boost business development. The Prime Minister added: “Where there was neglect about maintaining a basic framework for business, we are bringing a pro-enterprise attitude – dealing with the deficit, cutting business taxes, investing in infrastructure. “Where there was complacency about our competitive advantages, we are bringing a hands-on attitude – consolidating those strengths, getting behind key industries in every region of our country. “And where there was a backward-looking, unhelpful approach to innovation and start-ups we are bringing an optimistic attitude, backing the young insurgent companies, pulling down the barriers that are holding them back.”

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