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Business groups react to Shadow Chancellor's conference speech

28 Sep 2016

Business groups have reacted to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s speech to the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, in which he set out his positions on a number of key business and economic matters.

Mr McDonnell’s announcements included pledges to create a ‘real living wage’ of at least £10 per hour, to ‘end the social scourge of tax avoidance’ by doubling the number of relevant HMRC staff and to be an ‘interventionist government’ with a ‘comprehensive industrial strategy’ for investment.

He also promised to rewrite the Takeover Code to ensure that every takeover proposal has a clear plan in place to pay workers and pensioners, and to repeal the Trade Union Act.

Commenting on the Shadow Chancellor’s speech, Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: ‘Firms will back the commitment made to a manufacturing renaissance, supported by investment in infrastructure, skills, innovation and exports, taking advantage of historically low interest rates. But this must be fiscally responsible and based on balancing the books over the economic cycle. We look forward to seeing the detail.

‘It was also good to hear a pledge to seek access to the single market as part of the EU negotiations, and a recognition of its importance to several sectors including financial services.’

Meanwhile, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: ‘FSB welcomes the high-profile announcement from John McDonnell that the opposition will look at expanding the Employment Allowance, which was arguably one of FSB’s biggest wins in recent years. We call for this to be expanded further to help small firms tackle low pay and boost jobs.’

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