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‘Extend free childcare and cut NICs’, urges CBI

Free childcare should be extended and employee national insurance contributions (NICs) should be cut, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

At the CBI’s annual conference, the business organisation has called on the Government to extend the existing childcare provision to apply to all one and two-year-olds, a move which it says is ‘affordable’ and would offer additional support to working families.

The CBI has suggested that paid maternity leave should also be extended from 39 to 52 weeks, at which point free childcare would then be available under its proposed measures.

The business group is also proposing that the threshold for paying employee NICs should be increased to £10,500 by 2020, in a bid to improve living standards for those on lower incomes.

In addition to these more immediate issues, CBI director-general John Cridland also highlighted the longer-term issues facing the UK, and called for greater investment in productivity, skills and education.

‘Higher productivity leads to better wages, so we must have a laser-like focus on boosting firms’ competitiveness. We also need to create better ladders to higher-skilled, higher-paid work and improve our education system for all, to overcome disadvantage. Business leaders need to step up to the plate, as well as politicians,’ he said.