PM urges firms to give pay rises amid EU referendum calls

David Cameron has urged businesses to give employees a pay rise by passing on the benefits of growth and low oil prices.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said that Britain "shouldn't flirt" with the idea of exiting the European Union. He told attendees at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference that Britain walking out of the EU was the "biggest risk to our economy in the next decade".

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PM has 'every confidence of success' in EU negotiations

The Prime Minister has said he has "every confidence of success" in his negotiations on European Union reform.

He said that the Conservative Party have a strategy to "give people a say" on EU membership and that "an increasing number of businesses support this approach".

He warned that the alternative would mean "Britain would just steadily drift towards the exits of the EU".

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Tories 'would boost access to finance' for growing firms

A Conservative government would boost access to finance for small- and medium-sized businesses, David Cameron has announced.

He pledged a new financing scheme called "Help to Grow" which would help 500 fast-growing firms each year, he told the British Chambers of Commerce.

A pilot scheme will be launched at the Budget before the election using £100 million from the British Investment Bank, he said.

Mr Cameron said the scheme would help firms with a turnover of up to £25 million to get over the "valley of death" funding gap and continue expanding.

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British Chambers of Commerce 'supports' PM's position on Europe

The head of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth, said he supports the Prime Minister's position on Europe.

He did not mention his earlier call for an early referendum on Britain's EU membership.

Business leader calls for early EU referendum

One of Britain's most prominent business leaders has called for an early referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union to avoid "years of uncertainty".

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the vote should take place within 12 months of the general election in May.

The Prime Minister has pledged to hold it no later than the end of 2017, although BBC News cites a Conservative source as saying "if it is possible to hold it earlier that would be fine."

Mr Longworth said: "We need to bring the referendum date forward because two and a half years of uncertainty isn't good for growth and investment ... It should be no more than 12 months after the general election."

Union boss: What about a pay rise for nurses?

A union boss has attacked the Prime Minister for suggesting private sector pay rises when most of the country has seen a real terms pay cut - particularly in the public sector.

Paul Nowak, assistant general secretary of the TUC, said: "If David Cameron wants business leaders to take his message ... seriously, he needs to take practical pay to boost the pay of our doctors, our nurses, our local government workers."

Ed Balls warns against 'flirting' with European Union exit

Labour's shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said that Britain "shouldn't flirt" with the idea of exiting the European Union.

He told attendees at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference that Britain walking out of the EU was the "biggest risk to our economy in the next decade".

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