Opinion

Charlie Mullins: Change to Sunday trading laws shows Osborne is entrepreneurial chancellor

4 min read

13 July 2015

There was plenty for businesses to be pleased about in last week’s Budget. The cut in corporation tax will be very welcome – as of course will be the levy on "big business" to support the training of apprentices for all firms.

Considering that much of the preview commentary surrounding the contents of George Osborne’s battered red case was that this was going to be a benefits-focused Budget –and of course it was – this was a Budget that took Britain on a journey from a benefits-addicted society through to an employment-driven country where the aspiration should be to get on and not skive off on handouts.

The result is, to my mind, a win for business. This has to be the first step towards creating a British talent pool where it is the norm, rather than the exception, that workers are skilled, driven and motivated.

And with the changes to the point at which employees will start paying tax, the chancellor has presented a further incentive to choose work over benefits as well as rewarding those who have grafted during the tough times.

One of the other things that caught my eye, that was talked about before Osborne stepped up to the despatch box, but played second fiddle to some bigger announcements, was the changes to Sunday trading laws.

The chancellor’s “open all hours” attitude really excites the free-marketeer in me and will help the high street to emerge from a 1950s time warp. We’re often portrayed as a nation of shopkeepers and now is their time to break the shackles of outdated trading rules to have a more central role in the growth of the economy.

The entire retail sector can now play catch-up with the rest of the business community by devolving power to make changes to antiquated trading laws to English regions.

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Just like Ronnie Barker’s “Arkwright” character from the BBC sitcom, Osborne knows exactly how much he has in his till and what he has to do to fill it.

One of the key principles of growing a business is to sell more to more people – this move hits the nail on the head and shows that we have an entrepreneurial chancellor.

It makes no sense to me that firms pay rent and rates on their business premises, along with all the other overheads, but come Sunday there are laws stopping some businesses from actually being open. In a free economy that’s madness and a situation that was long overdue for change.

If you’re brave enough to go into business, large or small, there shouldn’t be any regulations restricting when you can sell your products or services, end of story. 

It’s good for the economy and will help create more and different working hours, which for many people will allow them to better juggle work and family commitments. It’s a complete winner and shows that Britain is open for business, whatever day of the week it is.