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Treasury Minister praises Bradford companies' efforts
Bradford companies have been praised by a Treasury minister for their pride in the city and their determination to seize business opportunities in spite of the tough trading climate.
But Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the Coalition Government would stick to its deficit reduction policies, even though it has been urged by the International Monetary Fund to consider deferring cuts if the economy continues to contract.
The Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister was in the city to meet local business leaders at a dinner. He said feedback from companies at the event had been positive, although there were concerns about the availability of skills.
“I was struck by the determination of local business leaders to succeed and of their pride in Bradford,” he said.
“Our industrial strategy aims to create an economy that encourages sectors such as manufacturing, which is stronger than average in this area, to ensure the UK makes things that people want to buy in markets around the world.
“It’s obviously a difficult time economically with continuing concerns in the eurozone which is our largest export market, but we are taking steps to ensure the UK economy is on a firmer footing over the long term and that means bringing down the huge financial deficit.”
Mr Alexander also met with Bradford Council chief executive Tony Reeves and praised the authority for being prepared to take risks to boost the local economy, including a loan to the cash-strapped developer of the £50 million Southgate scheme, which now houses Provident Financial’s head office, to ensure the scheme was completed.
“I think it’s brilliant that the local authority took the risk and ensured the completion of a site where new jobs are being created at Provident. Bradford city centre has its issues but with money from the Regional Growth Fund and other initiatives the Council is working to tackle these,” he said.
Mr Alexander stressed that deficit reduction remained the Government’s priority and he said it would not be deflected.
The IMF warned that the economy is set to shrink by 0.4 per cent this year, compared with its forecast of 0.2 per cent growth in July. It said the prospects for the global economic recovery have weakened as government policies across the world have failed to restore confidence.
Mr Alexander said: “The forecast is disappointing but not surprising. We will continue to deal with the deficit which has ensured that UK interest rates have remained at record low levels and maintained our reputation for fiscal responsibility.”