CBI Urges Government to Focus on Cutting Deficit in 2015

CBI Urges Government to Focus on Cutting Deficit in 2015
Cutting the deficit should be the government’s priority in 2015, the CBI has said, as it also calls for major changes to preserve public services.

In its new year message, the business lobby group says reducing the deficit is a “must” for whichever government takes power next year. It hails the UK’s economic performance which has left it the strongest among the G7 leading nations. It also suggests a radical education reform to scrap GCSEs at the age of 16.

John Cridland, the CBI’s director general, said: “We must sustain the best launch pad for the UK economy and our young people. Cementing Britain’s reputation in the world as one of the best places to do business has to be a top priority for 2015. “Our economy is among those enjoying the fastest growth among the G7 nations, with 1.2 million jobs created this year and employment set to grow in every region of the UK in 2015.”

Mr Cridland continued: “For business leaders, deficit reduction is a must for the next government.” He said the easiest cuts to public services had already been made and the only way to bring down the gap between government spending and income was to take drastic steps to prevent public services suffering “decline through a thousand cuts”.

The CBI suggests integrating health and social care, and a significant increase in services available online.

On education, Mr Cridland said the current system was leaving too many young people behind and he called for GCSEs to be replaced by a four-year learning plan between the ages of 14 and 18.

The BBC’s economics correspondent Andy Verity says the CBI has long protested that its members have hundreds of thousands of unfilled vacancies for skilled jobs which it says young people could easily do if they were prepared at school.

Since 2012, the group has regarded the two years spent working towards GCSEs as an unwelcome distraction for 14 to 16-year-olds, especially those wanting to learn skills other than academic ones, our correspondent adds.

The CBI now says GCSEs should be abolished and replaced by tailored learning plans, with each pupil keeping up maths and English as well as a mix of either vocational or academic A levels, to be tested just once at 18.

On the future of Britain’s place in the world, Mr Cridland said the majority of CBI members wanted the UK to remain within a reformed EU.