CBI says business can get UK economy out of 'bad place'

John Cridland
Image caption CBI chief John Cridland believes firms have the money to invest, but not the confidence

The UK economy is "in a bad place, with confidence evaporating", the head of the UK's biggest employers' organisation has warned.

But John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said that only businesses could dig the UK out of the "mess".

With belt-tightening by consumers and the government, "it's business investment and exports that will lead to British jobs", he said.

Mr Cridland was speaking ahead of the CBI's annual conference on Monday.

He believes that the balance sheets of many UK firms are quite strong. "They are not poor, they just don't have the confidence to invest," he told the BBC.

He added that the biggest single impediment to investing was fears about the eurozone debt crisis.

"The political problem is draining confidence from businesses," Mr Cridland said. "If we could resolve the eurozone crisis we could get back on a growth path.

"For me, the harder the times, the deeper you dig for the solutions that work," he said.

He said that the government could help unlock investment without spending more taxpayers' money.

Many CBI members were, for example, calling for more toll roads, which would spur private sector spending on infrastructure, he said.

On aviation, Mr Cridland said there will have to be an airport expansion if the UK was to continue having a world-class airport.

He said the CBI was broadly supportive of the coalition government because its members agreed that the most important priority was to press ahead with deficit reduction.

The theme of Monday's conference, Mr Cridland's first since taking over as director general in February, is exports.

The President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, will address delegates, in a sign of Mr Cridland's drive to encourage UK firms to trade more with emerging and developing countries.

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