Enterprise key to recovery says Cameron

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Indy Politics

David Cameron will put his faith in "hungry" British entrepreneurs today as the coalition struggles to pull UK plc out of the doldrums.

Amid fears that soaring oil costs could undermine the fledgling recovery, the Prime Minister will dismiss calls for public spending cuts to be eased.

Instead, he will insist the only option is to tackle the "enemies of enterprise" and trust innovative business people to drive the economy forward.

Chancellor George Osborne gave the strongest hint yet yesterday that he is ready to ease the pressure of rising oil prices on companies and motorists by scrapping a 1p hike in fuel duty planned for next month.

But international development minister Alan Duncan, a former oil trader, has warned that the price of crude could top 200 dollars - way above the current record of 147 dollars from July 2008 - if turmoil continues.

In a speech to the Conservative spring forum in Cardiff, Mr Cameron is to promise that Mr Osborne's crucial Budget in just over two weeks will focus on the "growth that is vital to the future of our country".

He will blame Labour for suppressing enterprise since 1997 and stress the importance of releasing the "hunger to get on in life" and "spark of initiative".

"For over a decade in this country the enemies of enterprise have had their way. Taxing. Regulating. Smothering. Crushing. Getting in the way," Mr Cameron is expected to say.

"There is no shortage of enterprise in this country. You see it in the 30,000-plus new firms that were started in January this year alone.

"I see it in the ideas and the energy of all the entrepreneurs I meet - British people selling curries to India and fashion to France.

"The enterprise culture is alive and well in this country, now we just need an enterprise government to go with it.

"So I can announce today that we are taking on the enemies of enterprise.

"The bureaucrats in government departments who concoct those ridiculous rules and regulations that make life impossible for small firms.

"The town hall officials who take forever to make those planning decisions that can be make or break for a business - and the investment and jobs that go with it.

"The public sector procurement managers who think that the answer to everything is a big contract with a big business and who shut out millions of Britain's small and medium sized companies from a massive potential market."

He will add: "So you want to know my strategy for growth? When people say, 'Spend loads more money' I say forget it - Labour spent it all.

"When people say lower interest rates I say we can't - they're as low as they can be.

"There's only one strategy for growth we can have now and that is rolling up our sleeves and doing everything possible to make it easier for businesses to grow, to invest, to take people on.

"Back small firms. Boost enterprise. Be on the side of everyone in this country who wants to create jobs, and wealth and opportunity."

But Labour frontbencher Andy Burnham accused Mr Cameron of presiding over a "government in chaos", and urged him to come up with a "Plan B".

"With the last month's confusion over David Cameron's Big Society idea, confusion over the forestry sell-off, and confusion over Libya, people are beginning to wonder what this Tory-led government stands for," he said.

"David Cameron needs to get his chaotic government under control, show some humility and come up with a Plan B."