Businesses are confused by the “bewildering array of initiatives” designed to help them, Gordon Brown has been warned.
Midland MP Peter Luff, chairman of the Commons Business and Enterprise Committee, said firms had written to him complaining that banks were still refusing to lend money.
Mr Luff (Con Mid Worcestershire) accused the Government of making announcements which did little to help employers, as he joined senior backbench MPs to question the Prime Minister. But the Prime Minister told Mr Luff he had “a plan” to mend Britain’s economy - and it was working.
As Mr Brown was speaking to MPs, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, announced the Budget would take place on April 22, about a month later than usual. The Prime Minister said the delay had been caused by the G20 summit in London on April 2, when world leaders including President Barack Obama are to discuss the global financial crisis. The delay will also give the Treasury more time to revise its plans, after forecasts in the pre-budget report last November came increasingly under question.
Mr Luff accused Mr Brown of presiding over high-profile announcements to help industry which made little difference to employers – “My research came up with 30 initiatives over recent weeks.”
Businesses continued to write to him complaining that they were unable to borrow money or access credit, Mr Luff said. He added: “Why does the Federation of Small Businesses say what you are doing has no impact?”
The Prime Minister told him: “This is not a series of initiatives. This is a plan. And I’m confident this is the plan to get Britain out of the downturn. It is to recapitalise the banks. Get lending moving again. Get fiscal and monetary stimulus into the economy. And to have investment-led growth.”
Mr Brown was giving evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee, which includes chairs of the Commons Select Committees. He downplayed claims that bankers were receiving huge bonuses, and said that heads of RBS and HBOS, which both had to be rescued by the taxpayer, had received no pay-offs.
But Mr Brown said the Government was determined to end the “short-term bonus culture” which helped cause the economic crisis, and warned bankers who made poor decisions could even lose bonuses they had received.
Asked about protests against the employment of foreign workers, Mr Brown insisted his pledge to create “British jobs for British workers” was never intended to suggest foreigners would be excluded. He said: “If you look back on the speech that I made, I wanted to say that in an open, global economy, where there is a huge amount of mobility, it is important that we do everything in our power to give British workers the skills that are necessary for them to be able to get the jobs that are available in our country.”