This article was first published on Politics Home on 4 July 2014.
Building on the announcements we have already made – including Andrew Adonis’ important report on growth and decentralisation this week – we will be focusing on how the next Labour government will work alongside businesses of all sizes to deliver the better-balanced, sustainable growth we need to see, that will enable us to earn our way to higher living standards.
Labour is clear that in order to build a Britain where rewards are shared in a fairer way, it is of course crucial that we have growth in the first place – we need to grow the pie as well as ensure that everyone is benefiting from it. The high-skilled, better-paid jobs we need will come from a thriving private sector, working in partnership with an active government through a proper industrial strategy.
Earlier this year I announced Labour’s Agenda 2030, our plan to foster better-balanced, sustainable growth, which aims to build on the talents of all. It seeks to put British business in the vanguard of solving tomorrow’s problems today, and is based on openness and an outward-facing approach to the world, and an active government promoting long-term investment.
We are already working closely with entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes. I instigated Britain’s first ever Small Business Saturday last year, the biggest celebration of small business this country has ever seen which saw an extra £500m go through the tills of Britain’s small firms. Just last week, Shadow Work & Pension Secretary Rachel Reeves and I challenged the Government on the huge bureaucratic burdens the Red Tape brigade at the DWP is creating for self-employed people who will receive Universal Credit. And earlier this Parliament Labour set up NG: Labour’s Entrepreneurs Network to showcase the best of British innovation and inform our policy thinking, ensuring that entrepreneurs are embedded at the heart of our party.
The success of small and large firms are inextricably linked - the relationship between the two is symbiotic with small firms relying on big firms for custom and big firms relying on a healthy supply chain for production. That's why Ed Balls and I commissioned Mike Wright, Executive Director of Jaguar Land Rover, to lead a review for Labour on how we can develop the UK's advanced manufacturing supply chains. Mike published his findings last week and I was pleased to be able to announce at Sheffield’s Global Manufacturing Festival that the next Labour government will be taking forward his recommendations to carry out a strategic review of innovation support and industrial support at the start of the next Parliament.
Infrastructure is crucial for enterprise. Sir John Armitt, former Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and former Chief Executive of Network Rail, has made recommendations to Labour on the best framework for building the high-quality infrastructure Britain needs in the coming decades, building political consensus to provide certainty to business and embedding long-term thinking.
Likewise, myself and Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt are determined to ensure our skills system is fit for purpose and to empower families to connect into the global economy. So we make no apology for wanting to address the huge digital divides which still exist in Britain, locking whole communities out of the benefits of the digital economy. That’s why we asked Maggie Philbin, CEO of TeenTech and former presenter of BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, to lead a review on tacking these barriers.
Today’s event, chaired by Lord Sainsbury, brings together those in business who have led reviews for Labour with other leading figures. I will be speaking on a panel alongside Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis, Keith Cochrane, Chief Executive of Weir Group, Michelle Feeney, former Chief Executive of PZ Cussons, and Katja Hall of the CBI.
Sir Roger Carr, Frances O’Grady, Sir Richard Lambert and Lord Mandelson will also be speaking during the day, as well as Jorg Asmussen, Germany’s State Secretary for Labour and Social Affairs.
With today’s event and beyond, we look forward to continuing to work alongside business, outlining a policy offer for firms across Britain – from start ups to multinationals – with a shared vision of a more inclusive prosperity.