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Essex: Business leaders call for more help from Government on economy

PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 April 2013

BUSINESS leaders have called on the Government to do more to stimulate jobs and economic growth in north Essex.

Director of policy at the Essex Chambers of Commerce, David Burch, said he wants to see money spent on important infrastructure projects in the area and additional stimulus for key industries, such as construction.

But MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell has questioned the wisdom of increased government input in the economy and has said reducing the financial and regulatory burden on small businesses is the best way to improve prospects in the region.

The debate followed the release of figures yesterday that showed the economy narrowly missed dropping back into recession for a third time in recent years. The Office for National Statistics said its estimate for gross domestic product (GDP) showed it grew 0.3% during the first three months of 2013.

But Mr Burch described the economy in north Essex as “flat-lining” and said “there was a lot of talk but little action” from Government ministers.

He said: “We’d like to see the Liverpool Street to Norwich line upgraded and a third line put in in the Chelmsford area. Improvements to the A120, so it is dual carriageway all the way from Harwich to Stansted, would also help communication and the movemnet of products and services.

“More encouragement also needs to be given to the housing market. This is an important sector in our region and has a knock-on effect for others sectors like manufacturing.”

In contrast, Mr Carswell said the latest ONS figures showed that “government stimulus doesn’t work.”

He added; “Since 2007 we have seen stimulus on a massive scale and only a very small increase in economic growth. By a process of elimination we are exhausting the Osborne and Brown approach.

“The Government needs to be more Thatcherite and get off the backs of small business and allow them to create the jobs.”

Mr Carswell suggested ways of doing this are through deregulation of employment laws and reducing corporation tax to 11%.

Describing herself as “low-tax Tory”, Witham MP Priti Patel said she has sympathy with both sets of views and that she wanted to see more money left in people’s pockets.

She added: “We should be reducing taxes on households and getting rid of stealth taxes. If people have money they are likely to get out and spend it, which is likely to stimulate the economy.”

“At the same time I am pro-supply-side stimulus. Using quantative easing hasn’t worked but there is need to put money into major infrastructure projects which will benefit the regions economy in the long-term.

“Real attention has to be paid to the way stimulus is used and it has to be focussed on key areas. This region is a net contributor to the economy as a whole and its right we should seek some investment from central Government.”

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