"Stop whingeing and invest in jobs", ministers tell businesses

Business have been accused of “whingeing” and failing to invest in jobs and the British economy by a leading cabinet minister.

Major firms are sitting on a “large pile of cash” and refusing to take risks, according to defence secretary Philip Hammond, as the government continued to criticise businesses.

Earlier, foreign secretary William Hague had called on companies to stop complaining about the government and to work hard to claw Britain away from recession.

Ministers were responding to the poor reception last week’s Queen’s Speech had received from business leaders, who said it did nothing to aid the stagnant economy.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics, Hammond said: “Large businesses are sitting on a pretty large pile of cash.

He added: “What we have got to try and do is persuade businesses to take the plunge, to just use some of their cash pile, to take a judgment about where demand is going, where the economy is going in the future, and be prepared to back their judgment with investment in British jobs and capacity in the British economy.

“That’s what the private sector is about, that’s why people in private business can legitimately say they should make profits because they do take risks - it is about persuading them to get out there and invest and take some risks.”

When asked if he was claiming firms were whingeing, Hammond said: “They are, yes, I suppose in a way whingeing about it.”

Hammond’s comments came after Hague told the country’s managers they should quit complaining and start creating wealth.

Hague’s interview in The Sunday Telegraph was in response to business leaders who have hit out at the government’s lack of planning for economic growth in the Queen’s Speech.

“There’s only one growth strategy: work hard,” said Hague. “I think they should be getting on with the task of creating more of those jobs and more of those exports, rather than complaining about it.”

However, shadow business secretary Chuka Ummuna said the government should not be blaming businesses, but instead be taking responsibility for its errors.

“Business leaders have told ministers that this government has lost the plot and urgently needs to work with them to create the conditions to foster private sector growth and to provide a more certain policy environment to give business the confidence to invest,” Ummuna said.

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