Deficit reduction ‘is top priority’

John Cridland, director general of the CBI
John Cridland, director general of the CBI
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REDUCING the deficit must remain a top priority for the next Government, according to a business leader.

John Cridland, director general of the CBI, also called for radical reform of the education system and the European Union.

In his New Year message, he also pressed the case for cementing the UK’s reputation as one of the best places to do business.

He said: “For business leaders, deficit reduction is a must for the next government.

“The main political parties are in agreement on the need for action but seem reluctant to be upfront on the major structural changes needed to prevent public services suffering decline through a thousand cuts.

“All political parties need to give as much attention to how they will run government as to what government should do.

“Post-Autumn Statement, the same approach to public service reform is no longer an option. Much of the low hanging fruit is long since gone and only radical solutions will deliver.

“Let’s see the integration of health and social care, and a significant increase in services available online.”

Mr Cridland said changes to the education system will lead to the scrapping of GCSEs for 16-year-olds and a “personal menu” of learning plans for teenagers, which will offer a mix of academic and vocational A-levels.

The CBI leader said most CBI members wanted to remain in a reformed EU, adding: “We need less EU – no more lifestyle regulation on matters like employment, such as the working time directive, which should be left to member states, and no more damaging regulations on UK financial services that are vital to fuelling growth across Europe.”