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Labour’s working week policy ‘puts cart before horse’

23 Sep 2019

economyResponding to the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s speech at Labour Party Conference, Edwin Morgan, Interim Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“For a speech from the man who wants to be in charge of the economy, the word business was notable by its absence. Business confidence is already shaky, and directors are unlikely to feel more comfortable now.

“Labour’s working week policy may be eye-catching, but it puts the cart before the horse. The only way to reduce hours while maintaining pay is by improving productivity. Companies agree with the Shadow Chancellor that the UK has a productivity problem, and want to work with any government to tackle it, but blunt regulation on working hours won’t get to the underlying issues. 

“Similarly, while businesses are open to ways of improving flexible working for employees and employers, banning zero hours contracts outright is probably more effective as a line in a conference speech than it is a mechanism to get people more hours if they want them.

“There were some positive statements around supporting regional and green growth and the ageing society, but strong ambition will need to be matched by detail. These are areas where private sector innovation will be pivotal, and pioneering firms are already breaking new ground, but it’s less than apparent how Labour plans to tap into the power of enterprise and stimulate it further.”

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