Business leaders make growth plea

Business leaders have called on the Government to concentrate on boosting economic growth rather than tackling the UK's structural deficit.

A survey of over 350 firms by the EEF manufacturers organisation also showed little enthusiasm for changing the UK's relationship with Europe.

Most of those polled said stimulating the economy should now be the Government's overwhelming priority, with only a quarter regarding reducing the UK's structural deficit as a top priority.

The importance of the European economy to manufacturers was highlighted by the fact that 40% of companies wanted the Government to press eurozone countries to make greater efforts to resolve the debt crisis, and a third said the coalition should work with European partners to accelerate measures to strengthen growth in the European economy.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF, said: "Manufacturers have always supported the need to reduce the deficit and get the public finances back in order. However, this was conditional on government also committing to delivering on the plan for growth.

"We have seen promising announcements on infrastructure, access to finance and regulation. But, Government has yet to demonstrate to business that it has the same clarity and laser-like focus on growth across departments that it has on reducing the deficit."

Mr Scuoler said Chancellor George Osborne must use his speech to the Conservative Party conference to convince business that growth was the number one priority across Government and that he had a plan to deliver it.