Cabinet: Jobs and Growth
The Prime Minister’s Spokesman said that this morning’s Cabinet focused on jobs and growth. The Chancellor said that the most important thing was to get the macroeconomic policies right. We were committed to delivering our plans on cutting the deficit and it was critical that we saw that process through. There was also a range of things we could do on the supply side of things to assist growth and job creation. The Chancellor set out the process he envisaged from now until the Budget: working with departments he and the Business Secretary would chair a series of Ministerial meetings looking at cross-economy issues such as planning regulation and how we could improve the situation for business. At the same time we would look at different sectors and try to create a package of measures on the supply side that would help growth. The Chancellor said that he needed help from Cabinet members to push the pro-growth agenda in Whitehall.
Asked if the Chancellor was setting this up as he was concerned about growth, the PMS said no; this was in line with our commitment to be the most pro-growth government we could be, and with our aim to make sure that all departments were engaged in that process.
Asked if any extra money would be made available, the PMS said that the Chancellor had been setting out the process today, and the work he wanted to undertake with departments.
Asked if these plans went above and beyond what was talked about yesterday in terms of employment law, the PMS said that the point the Chancellor was making was that departments in Whitehall were not necessarily set up to prioritise growth. That was why he had asked the Cabinet for their support in pushing the growth agenda.
Asked if there were any examples of how that might happen, the PMS said that regulation was an obvious example: lots of departments introduced regulations on a whole range of things to achieve different objectives and it was important to look at whether or not it made sense to introduce regulations in those areas, or if there were things we could do to simplify regulation, which would help businesses.
Asked how much scope there was for this to work if there was no money, the PMS said that the business environment was important to the prospects of business in this country: if you had a pro-business environment with low levels of regulation which allowed businesses to expand and take on new people, then that would obviously help support growth. This was not just about spending money.
Asked what the time frame was, the PMS said that these were not necessarily Budget measures, but the Budget was used as a timetable for the work.
Asked if any of these plans would involve the devolved administrations, the PMS said yes; the Government had made clear that we wanted growth in all parts of the country.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s business meeting had been about this morning, the PMS said that this morning’s meeting was about trade and was attended by our trade ambassadors who supported trade links in other countries. The Prime Minister had been very keen to prioritise trade within foreign policy and took large trade missions to India and China. Linking ourselves to those fast-growing economies was part of our growth strategy.
Asked if the new Trade Minister would be promoting British defence industries, the PMS said yes, that would be one of his tasks.
Asked why the Government had thrown the towel in over bankers’ bonuses, the PMS said that that was not the case. We set out yesterday that discussions were ongoing between the Treasury and the banks and we would not pre-empt the outcome of those discussions.
Asked what the Prime Minister’s position was on the bonus tax, the PMS said that the bonus tax was introduced as a one-off last year by the previous administration and was not a long-term tax as it could then be avoided. This Government had introduced a permanent bank levy.