YTKO Group CEO strikes a chord at the 2011 Regent’s Lecture

The panel explored the impact of the Eurozone crisis, social unrest, industrial relations, and uncertainty in the banking sector for UK business, looking at the way ahead in 2012, and debating what must be done here in the UK and at a European and global level.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Growth has stalled. European politicians have not acted quickly enough. It has been like a bushfire, and the politicians have not created a big enough firebreak, so each time the bushfire has jumped the firebreak and is now getting closer to the houses.”

Given the potential for industrial action, John Taylor, (ACAS) said: “While we have seen some high profile strikes, we need to keep things in perspective. The number of disputes and days lost to strikes remain at historically low levels.”

John Gieve described the prospects for EU and UK banks and economies as “between grim and catastrophic”, seeing a real chance that the euro would collapse leading to a deep depression across the West. Even if that was avoided, he fears a renewed recession would be certain in Europe, with little the UK could do to avoid it.

Despite the challenges, the panel explored the importance of creativity and innovation in creating new jobs and opportunities.

Bev Hurley focused on how loosening the reins for SMEs would generate jobs. She highlighted the importance of redefining “SME” to accurately reflect the distinct profiles and needs of micro, small and medium sized enterprises, pointing out that 98 per cent of all UK enterprises have fewer than 50 employees. With the emphasis on incentivising growth and ambition at the critical stages of the enterprise journey, Bev called for more refined policymaking to reap rich rewards for the UK’s economy.

Read Bev Hurley’s full text, “It’s all about jobs!” here.