Large firms are forgotten by the big society, says CBI director-general

John Cridland tells fringe meeting at Tory conference that businesses seem welcome to get involved so long as they're small, or social enterprises or mutuals

John Cridland
John Cridland

The government is not doing enough to involve big businesses in its big society agenda, according to John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry.

Speaking at a fringe event about the role of businesses in the big society at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Cridland said: "It seems business is very welcome to the table as long as it is a small business, a social enterprise or a mutual.

"If you’re a large company, I’m not sure any political parties at the moment are saying you’re welcome."

Cridland said the Work Programme proved it was necessary to work with large firms to deliver reformed public services.

"The Work Programme has shown you won’t deliver public service reform or give business a role in the big society without having large companies on board," he said.

He said his organisation represented small, medium and large businesses as well as social enterprises and mutuals.

Also at the event, civil society minister Nick Hurd said some large businesses were setting a good example. "My message to businesses is to go and look at what some of the best businesses in the country are doing," he said.

According to Hurd, Asda, Sainsbury’s, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte were doing admirable work with communities, charities and social enterprises.

He said: "Before you start saying, come on, aren’t you supposed to be a Conservative, I’ll say this is good for business. Let’s not think this is some woolly, foggy agenda."

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