The Institute of Directors has outlined a plan to boost corporate governance in the UK.

In its latest pre-election manifesto, the organisation has called on the next Government and the business community to work together to restore trust in how British companies are run.

The IoD has set out a 10-point plan, which includes a new Code of Conduct setting out ethical standards for directors and a set of minimum requirements in terms of governance knowledge and skills for new directors of sizeable firms.

There are currently no formal standards in place for board members at even the UK’s largest company, it said.

The IoD manifesto also calls for the creation of a new company, the ‘Public Service Corporation’ (PSC) to take hold of the contracts outsources by government. The PSC would legally require businesses to balance the interest of shareholders with workers, the supply chain and other stakeholders.

The move would help tackle issues, such as preventing contract holders from dishing out dividends while racking up pension deficits.

And it also wants stronger rules around how companies report on their climate change impact, and has urged the next Government to consider setting up a Sovereign Wealth Fund to invest in the green economy.

The manifesto has been welcomed by committee member of the Cumbria branch of the IoD, George Beveridge.

“Whatever happens in the election, businesses will remain at the heart of our economy, serving consumers, providing employment, generating tax revenues to fund public services and supporting their local communities,” he said.

“The IoD's proposals are a balanced set of ideas designed to enable the UK to continue to lead on good governance.

“We can't stand still and there is strong public demand for better and more transparent governance in the corporate sector and these proposals will allow Government and business to collaborate to that end.”

Dr Roger Barker, head of corporate governance at the IoD said the spotlight was on how businesses should be run at in the run up to next month’s General Election.

“The UK has benefited greatly from its commitment to free enterprise,” he said.

“It’s a globally attractive destination for business, and our corporate governance framework has been imitated around the world. But we can’t rest on our laurels, and business leaders must do more to regain public trust.

“Too often the debate around capitalism degenerates into simplistic binaries and slogans.

“We should be more ambitious and explore new ways to combine the profit motive with social responsibility, to confront the challenges facing the economy, not least climate change.”

The manifesto comes in the wake of a number of high-profile business collapses, including most recently, travel company Thomas Cook.

The Government – which is conducting its own investigation into the crash – was criticised by unions for failing to intervene with the company’s directors also placed firmly in the firing line.

In the meantime, some Thomas Cook workers have been thrown a lifeline, with Hays Travel taking on 555 of its stores, including a small number in Cumbria.