Confederation of British Industry

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was formed in 1965 and it is the main business wide employers' organization. It works with the UK government, international legislators and policy-makers to pursue corporate interests. It combinined the former Federation of British Industries (founded in 1916), British Employers' Confederation, and National Association of British Manufacturers.

CBI aims

The CBI champions causes favourable to owners of British businesses.

The stated aim of the CBI is to help create and sustain the conditions in which businesses in the United Kingdom can compete and prosper for the benefit of all. To this end it lobbies the UK government and international legislators.

CBI policy is decided by its members, senior professionals from all sectors and sizes of business, who are directly involved in the policy-making process.


Approximately 80% of the FTSE 100 companies are CBI members and nearly half of the FTSE 350.

Most of its larger members and many of the medium-sized and smaller ones operate internationally.

Membership of the CBI is corporate: organisations and companies are members, not the individuals nominated to represent them.


The CBI is able to lobby democratically elected representatives in order to gain concessions deemed favourable to the owners of UK businesses.

Karen Dee & Roelant de Waard from the CBI are involved with the Motorists Forum, a supposedly 'independent body' which influences policy in relation to motoring[1] [2].

EU lobbying

The CBI were among the top spending British based trade-organisations on EU lobbying in Brussels in 2014, spending between €500,000 and €450,000.[3]


The CBI conducts numerous surveys and reports which are of particular use to its members. Research conducted is available to the relevant sections of its membership.


The CBI is the representative body for British business as a whole. Its membership of 250,000 firms employs about half the UK's workforce.The stated objectives of the CBI are "to uphold the market system and the profit motive that sustains it." (1)

It works both proactively, in forming and pushing policies, and reactively, in trying to deflect government proposals. In fact few policies or bills are written without extensive consultation with the CBI. It has daily contact with every level of government, with civil servants, with Ministers (including the PM), and once a bill reaches Westminster with MPs1. The CBI's chief economist is a member of the independent panel of Six Wise Persons which advises the Chancellor on the Budget (2).


The internal structure of the CBI is fairly elaborate, with 21 policy committees (each having several sub-committees), from Europe to energy to education, plus 13 regional committees. It has about 300 staff (1).

The general election is obviously an important event for the CBI, and it produced its own manifesto, Prospering in the Global Economy (3).

The CBI consistently argues for a flexible workforce, including part-time and temporary workers (4); it unsuccessfully fought the EC's Working Time Directive (alongside the government) (5); and has opposed the DTI's consultative document proposing greater employee consultation and involvement in company decisions (6). In the 5-yearly Health & Safety (H?) review by the DoE, it has attacked proposals to charge high-risk companies (such as oil extraction, chemicals) for their H? inspections (5).

In response to the EC's proposed widening of the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive, the CBI demanded "a clear justification in terms of environmental need and sound cost / benefit analysis" (the usual industry need for an excessively high level of certainty) (5). It has challenged the international bio-safety (biotechnology safety) protocol to the biodiversity convention, on the grounds that it could discourage R?, commit countries to over-regulation, and deprive them of discretion (6) (discretion which would allow companies to play countries off against each other and invest in whichever has the lowest standards.) It has opposed the carbon tax and emissions restrictions, preferring voluntary self-regulation by companies (I wonder why?); and supported privatisation of the nuclear industry (7).

In 1994 the CBI argued that legislation should require contaminated land to be cleaned up only enough for the planned future use; its points were included in the Framework for Contaminated Land and the Environment Bill (7).

It is currently fighting EC legislation which would empower consumer organisations to file injunctions or seek damages against dangerous companies4. It opposes Labour's proposed windfall tax on the privatised utilities (4).

The CBI report Moving Forward demands an extra £2 bn pa investment in infrastructure, attracting inward investment and stimulating regeneration, to reduce congestion and to create jobs in the construction and IT industries. It echoes the ERT's Missing Networks in the call for better links between the modes. The report calls for government to "take full account of UK companies' need to compete abroad; not increase the overall tax burden on business; and guarantee greater, more consistent investment in transport".

On Europe, the CBI wants to strengthen the single market, reshape social policy and balance environmental objectives with competitiveness. Elsewhere it supports export credit guarantees and aid-trade provision (a la Pergau Dam) to help companies to exploit developing markets (7).

It produces the monthly CBI News.


Contact Details

The CBI divides the UK into 13 Regions. It also has offices in Beijing, Brussels and Washington DC. However, its main office is situated in London at Centre Point.

Centre Point
103 New Oxford Street


Directors-General since 1965


External links

Further reading

Wyn Grant, Globalisation, Big Business and the Blair Government University of Warwick, CSGR Working Paper No. 58/00. August 2000.


  1. Motorists Forum Annual Report 2006/2007 Accessed 16th August 2008
  2. The Motorists Forum Membership Accessed 16th August 2008
  3. Finance industry is UK's biggest lobbyist in Brussels Lobby Facts, 26 January 2015, accessed 3 February 2015
  4. Centrica Management Accessed 26th August 2008

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