Opinion

5 measures to win my business vote

3 min read

13 April 2010

I don’t usually get irate about politics but when I read Peter Mandelson’s recent suggestion that some of our top business leaders had been “deceived” by the Tories' position on NI, it seriously wound me up.

My usual approach to politics and business is that we need to get on with running our enterprises without relying on government, just hope ministers don’t put too many obstacles in our way and celebrate the serendipity when they do something to help us create growth and jobs. However, the current economic landscape is beyond that. We need action now.

Sure, we all benefit from the public sector services we pay for – but no-one likes to see inefficiency and waste. Reading about public-sector growth (when we’ve all been cutting back and have a national debt that makes our eyes water) does make me wonder if there’ll be a point at which the private sector can no longer carry the burden.

Last week, my eldest daughter, who will be voting for the first time in the May election, asked me how she should make a choice. Rather than the easy approach of just giving her my opinion, I explained that when the waffling stops, the parties are supposed to put it all into a manifesto.

So, I checked the “business” sections of the websites of the three main political parties, looking for a point-by-point business plan summarising the challenges we face, the action the parties will take, the results we can expect and by when. Check them out for yourself. This is the week they go “live”.

Whoever ends up as our next government, I bet they’d benefit from listening to the readers of Real Business. The voices of entrepreneurs should be making a considerable contribution to their thinking and shaping their policies.

As a starting point, we need some specific measures to massively increase the growth and prosperity of the private sector. Here are the five main business points I’d like to see addressed:

  1. Tax incentives to encourage new venture funding for start-ups/small businesses;
  2. Technology/R&D investment incentives for business to improve efficiency;
  3. Talent/skills development and apprentice schemes for businesses to “future proof” local employment needs;
  4. Measures to make it easier to employ people; and
  5. Incentives for exporters.

Unless we ruthlessly prioritise the rebalancing of the economy, with more emphasis on the top initiatives for private-sector growth, the impact will be weakened.

As employers, what would you like to see?

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