October 25, 2010 (KATAKAMI / BBC) — David Cameron has promised a “forensic, relentless approach” to ensuring the UK’s future economic growth.
In his first speech to the CBI since becoming prime minister, he said the government would offer help to ensure new companies can prosper.
Mr Cameron also announced £30bn would be invested in transport projects over the next four years.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition lacked a credible plan for growth.
In his first speech to the CBI’s conference since becoming leader last month, Mr Miliband argued the government was in danger of repeating the mistakes that led to the recession, leaving it a “hostage to fortune”.
The government argues that, while 490,000 public sector positions are forecast to close, new jobs will be created by the private sector.
Mr Cameron told the CBI conference in London that he knew where economic growth and new jobs would come from.
He said he wanted to help new companies break into existing markets, and pledged funding for a network of centres to make research more commercial.
Mr Cameron said: “We are providing the stability for investment – in five years’ time we will have balanced the books.”
He also said: “Over the course of this Parliament – and the next – I believe we can transform our fortunes.
“This is an incredible opportunity for Britain, for new start-ups to flourish, for innovations to drive growth and create jobs.
“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.”
The prime minister said the UK had sometimes been “complacent about our competitive advantages”, whereas the coalition wanted a change in attitude.
He told business leaders a “forensic, relentless focus on growth is what you will get from the government”.
On Transport, Mr Cameron said countries such as China had been investing massively in new roads and rail links while the UK had “stood still”.
He announced plans for “the first ever national infrastructure plan setting out the infrastructure Britain needs and how we will unlock some £200bn worth of public and private sector investment over the next five years to deliver it”.
Mr Cameron added: “Even in this very constrained time, we will invest over £30bn in transport projects over the next four years.”
CBI director general Richard Lambert said: “The prime minister demonstrated a real passion for business and an understanding that only business will create growth.
“There was a welcome emphasis on the need to re-boot the country’s infrastructure, with a coherent vision of what needs to be done over the next five years to secure economic growth.”
But Mr Miliband told the CBI that Mr Cameron has failed to learn lessons from the financial crisis and has no plan for growth.
CBI President Helen Alexander: ”We need to create prosperity for all of us”
He said: “As much as I am worried about the job cuts and pace of retrenchment in the government’s deficit reduction plan, I am equally worried about its failure to provide any sort of wider economic policy.
“Without profound change in the way we manage our economy, we are at risk of – at best – sleepwalking back to an economy riddled with the same risks as we saw before the recession hit.”
Mr Miliband called for a system of financial regulation which would better serve the needs of the economy.
He said: “If government fails to play its proper role as regulator, it’s businesses that suffer.”
The political debate at the CBI conference is centring on growth, in large part because preliminary GDP figures from the Office for National Statistics for the third quarter of 2010 are due on Tuesday.
Some economists expect them to show slower growth than figures for the previous quarter.