The Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will today launch the organisation’s economic plan to establish a competitive, dynamic and future-focussed UK following the shocks of Brexit and COVID-19 and in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow.
Tony Danker will deliver a speech today in which he we reveal the findings of research that sets out a roadmap to a greener and more sustainable business future.
Danker will argue that 2021 must be a turning point for UK economic policy. He will add that failure to make bold changes now will result in a return to business as usual – the persistently low productivity and heightened social division that followed the 2008 financial crisis.
“This country will never have a greater opportunity to transform our economy and society for the better than we have right now,” he will say. “This is the moment where we have a genuine chance to make big bets on how the UK economy will grow and compete. To use that appetite to invest, to collaborate globally after a decade of protectionism.
“To lift thousands of young people out of limbo, so they can reach their potential. And to build on that bond between employers and employees closer than ever before.
“We have a grand plan for the whole nation. On the face of it, you might think that only some firms can benefit; we see prizes for everyone.
“I know we have much to worry about in the short run. The COVID-19 crisis is far from over. It’s not easy for many trading in a new regime with the EU. Many firms have a lot of debt and uncertainty about the future. But we know from crises that new realities are shaped.”
The research, “Seize the moment: how can business transform the UK economy?” is the result of six months’ work by the organisation and Danker will warn that employees are righting expected more from their employers.
“These prizes also aren’t just economic or for business. We have deliberately set out a strategy that delivers social progress,” he will say. “Our workforce demands better of us. Our customers judge us by the values we keep. And our investors rightly assess us through environmental, social and governance frameworks.
“The pandemic has demonstrated two new facets of business that I am extremely proud of: our humanity and our role as problem solvers. Some critics have felt business was a social problem to be solved. But we are learning that business is uniquely well placed to solve social problems.”
“Transforming our economy also means now transforming the relationship between employer and employee,” Danker will explain. “Work is a place where people get in and on in life.
“Get jobs, better ones after, skills to succeed, resilience and job satisfaction.
“I say to employers everywhere – we did the right things in the crisis. Bottle that. Let it be one of the positive legacies of the past year.”
“Our plan is to make the UK the most competitive, dynamic and future-focused economy in the world. Become a beacon to the world in achieving green growth. Decarbonising our economy is a planetary imperative, we can use our transition to net zero to create green jobs, to find sustainable solutions and sell them to the rest of the world.
“We can turn up the dial on UK innovation investment to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale up a business. If we want to be a trading powerhouse, we need more UK firms to export – diversifying the products and services, and markets that they sell to.
“And we simply must deliver better growth and greater shared prosperity in the regions and nations of the UK. Our long-standing history of productivity and income disparities have held us back. If we want to level up our country, we need companies to strengthen their regional footprint and investment, to work with government to truly play to local strengths. We need to work together at every level – with First Ministers, Mayors, local partnerships and beyond.”
Danker will warn businesses has to play a role alongside government.
“All of this, government cannot do alone. Only business can create jobs and opportunities for people.
“You will hear a lot from us on this campaign to come. Not just this week, but this year and for the five years to come. We want every business in the UK to get involved.
“There is a unity of purpose in my view across politics, business, trade unions and civil society. We may disagree on detail but not on the need to align around this vision and these principles.”