Cameron: ‘This is how we get the jobs back’

Ian Dunt

David Cameron has outlined his plans for boosting the private sector with the promise of million of pounds of funding for technological innovation centres.

The prime minister told the Confederation for British Industry (CBI) today that Britain can be at the forefront of innovation if it builds bridges between higher education institutions and industry.

The speech comes as the opposition accuses the government of having no policy to stimulate the economic recovery.

Some analysts have branded the coalition’s economic agenda a gamble, because it relies so heavily on a major recovery in the private sector to soak up public sector job losses.

“There is one question I want to answer today: where is the growth going to come from – where are the jobs going to come from?” Mr Cameron said

“Over the course of this parliament – and the next – I believe we can transform our fortunes.”

The £200 million investment will create a network of ‘technology innovation centres’ – based on the model proposed by Hermann Hauser and James Dyson – that will help commercialise the outcomes of British research and help firms create new products and jobs.

The prime minister argued that the recent bonfire of the quangos’, which saw the merging of the competition functions at the Office of Fair Trading with the Competition Commission, is being used by the government to streamline and toughen up competition regulations.

He will also admit that previous Tory government’s had been too sympathetic to big business and not helped smaller companies challenge in existing markets.

“I believe in competition,” the prime minister said. “I believe when new entrants challenge big business, everyone wins. This hasn’t always been the view of the government.

“In the 1980s, initially the government attempted to build British Telecom and Cable and Wireless into ‘national champions’ by sheltering them from competition. This approach failed.

“Today, some industries are too uncompetitive, with significant barriers to entry and obstacles to growth. We’re going to challenge the status quo.”

The prime minister was also keen to assure business leaders that the forthcoming cap on immigration would not affect their ability to recruit the brightest talent from around the world.

The comment was taken as a sign that the goverment may be toying with the idea of watering down its immigration cap commitment.

Labour said Mr Cameron’s annnouncements today were just re-cooked Labour policies.

“Today’s flimsy re-announcement of existing plans shows just how big a gamble the Tories are taking with their plan to cut one million jobs across private and public sectors,” said sadow business secretary John Denham.

“Most elements of the plan – Crossrail and other transport schemes – had already been announced by Labour. High profile investments – like technology innovation centres – are based on Labour proposals.”