By Chuka Umunna - 11th September 2012
Today’s industrial strategy confirms once again how it is refusing to change course and is instead ploughing on with its failed plan.
The Tory-led Government’s economic plan has failed. The UK is just one of two G20 countries in recession and our economy has not grown at
all since the General Election. Yet today’s industrial strategy confirms once again how it is refusing to change course and is instead ploughing on with its failed plan.
We’ve been here before. From Project Merlin to the regional NICs holiday for new businesses, the Government’s growth initiatives have continually failed to live up to expectations.
Today’s damning report on the Government’s flagship Regional Growth Fund highlights the Government’s ongoing failure to deliver on growth. With winning bids still waiting for their promised funding, how are struggling businesses expected to have confidence in the Government to give them the support they need? This incompetence turned farcical today with Business Minister Matthew Hancock defending the Government’s record on the RGF against the report he had personally voted for as a member of the Public Accounts Committee before his recent promotion.
Labour has consistently been making the case for an active industrial strategy to give investors the confidence and long-term certainty they need to get our economy growing. But instead of taking a strategic approach, this out of touch Government has presided over cuts to feed-in tariffs and chaos and confusion in defence and transport, undermining some of our most important industries.
Ed Miliband has long led calls to examine the case for a British Investment Bank as part of an active industrial strategy. That’s why as part of our Policy Review Labour published a report examining how such a bank could work. As Ed has said, every other major country understands government needs to act to tackle the problem of financing and its time we too got behind our small businesses.
So Ministers will need to come clean on whether they are proposing a proper British Investment Bank, which Ed has called for, or whether, as George Osborne has suggested, this is merely a rebranding exercise of schemes which already exist and are not doing enough to help business.
Getting this right matters. The Government’s economic failure means borrowing is up by a quarter so far this year. To get us out of this recession made in Downing Street and avoid long-term damage to our economy we need an industrial strategy that works and we need it now.
Chuka Umunna is the Shadow Business Secretary and Member of Parliament for Streatham.