Brown pledges help to business

HELP is coming.That was the prime minister's message to Suffolk's business leaders at a seminar called to launch the government's campaign to help those affected by the recession.

PRIME Minister Gordon Brown yesterday promised Suffolk's business leaders that help was coming for those affected by the recession.

He delivered his message to business leaders gathered at a seminar to launch the Government's campaign to provide help to those who need it in the economic downturn.

East of England minister Barbara Follett joined the Prime Minister to meet a group of business and civic leaders to discuss the economy at UCS.

Mr Brown pledged that government pressure on banks would force them to start lending again to businesses in the near future - giving the economy a boost that it badly needs.

“In the past recessions in Britain tend to have started with serious inflation, which has led to increasing interest rates and problems in meeting the cost of borrowing,” he said.

“This time the problem started when the amount of money made available to businesses effectively got cut in half.

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“Banks from outside Britain effectively took their money away and used it for loans in their own countries - America, Europe, or Iceland.

“That reduced the amount of money available and all the problems have stemmed from that. What is needed now is to make more credit available through the banks in this country,” he said.

He told the meeting that the government was now putting pressure on the banks it owned - or part-owned - to increase the amount of money they were prepared to loan to businesses or for new mortgages.

“That money will start coming through - and it should be a real boost for the economy,” he said.

Sean McMillan from Spirit Yachts suggested that the government could help businesses more by reducing national insurance rates and forcing companies to pay their bills within a reasonable time rather than last year's VAT cut.

The prime minister said the VAT cut had effectively been worth �20 a week to most families - and Mrs Follett said that had been particularly useful to the East Anglian tourist industry.

Mr Brown said that although unemployment was increasing and many more people were becoming fearful about their jobs, there were still new opportunities for work.

“This is a worrying time for very many people and I am well aware of that, but there are 200,000 people starting new jobs every month.

“That's 200,000 people who found new jobs last month, this month, and will find them next month.

“What is needed, and what the government is doing is trying to equip the workforce to fit those jobs,” he said.

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