CBI chief calls for £1.5bn to kick-start growth

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The Independent Online

George Osborne should use his upcoming Autumn Statement to plough £1.5bn into the economy and kick-start growth, according to the main trade body for business.

John Cridland, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, is today calling on the Chancellor to divert some cash from a government department underspend and the proceeds of the upcoming auction of mobile phone spectrum, which may raise up to £5bn, into a series of schemes that can help struggling firms, especially small enterprises.

The measures include £140m to cap the increase on high street business rates at 2 per cent and bigger investment allowances for small companies at a cost of £330m.

To stimulate overseas sales – one of the areas the Bank of England's Governor Sir Mervyn King pinned his hopes on as he warned this week that Britain faces falling into a triple-dip recession – the CBI is calling for a one-off £500m for direct export finance.

Mr Cridland is also backing plans to scrap stamp duty on Alternative Investment Market-listed shares at a cost of £72m and £200m for local authorities to improve roads as business confidence flatlines.

"We thought 2012 would be better, now we are saying 2013 will be better," he said.

Mr Cridland warned the Government that it must get next week's Energy Bill right if business is to be convinced of the merits of investing in new nuclear and renewable projects. "I think they've run out of contingency time; it's now or never. This is the most important bill in this Parliament – it is about keeping the lights on," he said.

Mr Cridland added that the recent storm over foreign multi-nationals such as Google and Amazon paying minimal tax in Britain should spark closer co-operation with international tax authorities.

"Where you see a company organising its tax affairs for non-commercial reasons – what you might call black-box techniques – it's not illegal but it's not defendable. I don't think it should happen."