CBI welcomes Queen&#39s speech

The CBI said yesterday that business would give “six out of ten” to the legislative programme set out in the Queen&#39s speech.

John Cridland, Deputy Director-General, said: “The government is making huge strides with planning reform and communications regulation, but there will be real concern about regional assemblies, business rates and charges for development.”

On the Planning Bill, he said: “The government deserves a huge amount of praise for pushing ahead with reform of the planning system. This is the best opportunity in a generation to change the tortuous processes that have such a negative effect on business development.

“That said, much of what business want does not need to be in the Bill as it does not require primary legislation. We want local authorities to have tough targets on the time they take over planning decisions, as well as the resources to meet them.”

On the Communications Bill, he said: “The creation of a single regulator should lead to a significant reduction in costs for many businesses. We will press for more business involvement in decision making but the arrival of Ofcom will be a real boost for the rapidly-changing communications industry.”

On Regional Assemblies, he said: “There is no evidence that regional assemblies will add anything to economic development. Indeed, they are likely to hamper decision making. Why is the government spending time on this when there are better ways to boost regional economies?”

On the Local Government Bill, he said: “There will be real concern about business rates. The government wants to give smaller firms tax relief without bearing the costs. That means other businesses will have to pay more. Small firms should be helped in other ways without the rest of business having to pay for it. This is giving with one hand and taking with the other when we already have one of the highest levels of property taxation in Europe.”

On charging for development (included in the Planning Bill), he said: “Councils should have powers to charge firms when a development is to impact on a community. But they should not have carte blanche to extract money from companies. This would be nothing more than a tax on development.”