Commenting on Vince Cable’s industrial strategy speech, Cheryl Smart MBE, Chief Executive of Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce said:"Vince Cable has listened to business' plea for greater long-term thinking in policy-making, and has set out some sensible steps that could help to improve the business environment in the UK. His proposals around industrial strategy make an important contribution to moving Britain toward a new model economy. A successful industrial strategy isn’t about picking winners or losers, but about creating the right environment for all businesses to thrive.
“While businesses will be heartened to hear strong support for the establishment of a business bank, this must be more than just a vehicle for existing government schemes. A brand new, fully-fledged business bank is needed to lend to new and growing companies, many of whom report difficulty accessing finance. Companies are clear, though, that nothing less than a 'full service' business bank will do - a rebranding exercise for existing government schemes or one that uses existing bank infrastructure is not enough. Businesses need policies that will help over the medium- and long-term, but boost confidence now. The government can do exactly that by addressing the problem of access to finance faced by so many of the UK’s firms.
"We have long said that the skills system is failing British businesses, with resources following the choices of individual learners, rather than the needs of business. The Employer Ownership pilots announced today are an important first step to ensuring that funding actually delivers the training that our companies need in order to grow. We support a further expansion of this approach, with employers having a greater say in how training funds are spent.
"The challenge now lies with Whitehall, which has a patchy record of bringing important policy ideas to life. The government must ensure we move from rhetoric to reality on key interventions such as a British Business Bank, or risk losing business confidence."