Conservative party conference
British Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark speaks on the economy on the second day of the annual Conservative Party conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham Ben Stansall/ AFP

The UK's economy is "still too uneven" and the country needs an "upgrade" in jobs, skills, education and infrastructure, according to Greg Clark. The business secretary laid down the challenge to Britain's businesses as he addressed the Conservative conference in Birmingham this morning (3 October).

"For all the assets and skills and reputation we have as a nation. For all of the astonishing economic progress we've made in this country. It is still too uneven," he said.

The top Tory claimed the UK boast the "richest area in Northern Europe" – central London – but stressed it was no time to be complacent.

"This country will never win a race to the bottom. Looking ahead, it's clear that the only viable path is in the opposite direction. I believe that it is time for our country to have an upgrade," Clark added.

"An upgrade in our infrastructure. An upgrade in the resilience – and the cleanness – of our energy supplies. An upgrade in our education and training. An upgrade in the development and regeneration of our towns and cities...Upwards to a country that works for everyone."

The business secretary also attacked Labour and the party's newly re-elected leader Jeremy Corbyn, asking the large Symphony Hall at the International Convention Centre to imagine the left-winger as prime minister.

People's Assembly protest in Birmingham IBTimes UK

"Last week in Liverpool – a city built on trade and enterprise – Mr Corbyn set out his vision. A plan to tax enterprise, nationalise our industries, bankroll failure and stamp out success," he said.

"When today's Labour Party sneer at the job creators, turn their back on the ambitions of ordinary working people and march off to the political extremes, we in this Party must make this one simple pledge: we will never allow Mr Corbyn to do to Britain what he has done to the Labour Party.

"The only 'momentum' we want to see in our country is the momentum of innovation. Of job creation. Of regeneration across the land."

Clark spoke ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is expected to unveil a £5bn housing fund to help tackle the UK's property shortage.