David Cameron says enterprise is only hope for growth

By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter, BBC News

media captionDavid Cameron: ''We are going to be taking on the enemies of enterprise''

With no money left in the government coffers, the "only strategy" for growth is to get behind Britain's entrepreneurs, David Cameron has said.

In a speech to his party's spring conference, the PM declared war on the "enemies of enterprise" - and said he was on the side of "go-getters".

And he vowed 23 March's Budget would be the "most pro-growth this country has seen for a generation".

But Labour accused Mr Cameron of "warm words but no action".

Chancellor George Osborne has already told the Tory conference in Cardiff that his Budget will be "unashamedly pro-growth" and will include 10 new enterprise zones to boost some of the most deprived areas of England.

'Spark of initiative'

Mr Cameron used his speech to reinforce his pro-growth message, and to promise a "fundamental rebalancing of our economy" with "less debt, more saving; less borrowing, more investment; less dependence on financial services, more new industries, exports and trade".

With interest rates at a record low, and no money to spare, the prime minister said he wanted to champion the growth and ingenuity of the British people.

He said: "The spark of initiative. The courage to make your dream happen. The hard work to see it through.

"There's only one strategy for growth we can have now and that is rolling up our sleeves and doing everything possible to make it easier for businesses to grow, to invest, to take people on.

"Back small firms. Boost enterprise. Be on the side of everyone in this country who wants to create jobs, and wealth and opportunity."

'Social good'

On a practical level, Mr Cameron promised to open up government procurement processes to more small businesses.

"I can announce today that we are taking on the enemies of enterprise.

"The bureaucrats in government departments who concoct those ridiculous rules and regulations that make life impossible for small firms.

"The town hall officials who take forever to make those planning decisions that can be make or break for a business - and the investment and jobs that go with it.

"The public sector procurement managers who think that the answer to everything is a big contract with a big business and who shut out millions of Britain's small and medium sized companies from a massive potential market."

'Reckless plan'

Mr Cameron said "enterprise is not just about markets - it's about morals too", adding: "We understand that enterprise is not just an economic good, it's a social good."

And he said the Conservatives had always been a "party of builders and businesswomen; electricians and engineers; roofers and retailers".

"At its beating heart this is still a party of start-ups, go-getters, risk-takers.

"What drives us is getting things done - and what drives us mad is the bureaucracy, the forms, the nonsense getting in our way."

It was speech that focused almost exclusively on domestic issues, but he did touch on Libya and repeated his call for Colonel Gaddafi to "go".

He also urged Conservative activists to vote against changing the voting system in the referendum on 5 May.

'Reheated rhetoric'

Labour has accused the Conservatives of lacking a strategy for growth and being more interested in grabbing headlines.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: "When we urgently need a plan for jobs and growth to get the economy moving again and help hard-pressed families all David Cameron and George Osborne can offer is empty words but precious little action.

"All we've heard from this conference is the reheated rhetoric and warmed up policies of 30 years ago - a VAT rise, deep spending cuts, knee-jerk deregulation and enterprise zones which didn't work when they were tried in the 1980s.

"If David Cameron wants to know who is the real enemy of enterprise and growth in Britain today he only needs to look next door at his own chancellor.

"It is George Osborne's reckless plan to cut too deep and too fast, which has seen the economy go into reverse. "

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