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Charlie Mullins: What 2010 has in store for entrepreneurs

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This year has been pretty good on all accounts for Pimlico. Despite the recession we have done well and our trading figures remain high. But we are one of the few lucky ones.

For many 2009 has meant redundancy. We have heard endless tales of business failures, major brands shaken to their core and house repossessions soaring. Families have been left picking up the pieces and with little reassurance from the government. It’s about time someone started telling the truth, came clean and put all the cards on the table so we can get on with the business of organising a recovery.

2010 should be the year that:

* We get our money back and stop giving bankers rewards for failure. We bailed the banks out, and we are owed it back with interest before any bonus is even thought about – let alone given to those who started this whole mess in the first place.

* Gordon Brown sees what unemployment is really like.

* MPs’ expenses should be stopped altogether. It’s just ridiculous that MPs get away with claiming for outrageous things again and again. If anybody else cheated their employers like this, they would be sacked and face prosecution – they certainly would at Pimlico. But these MPs are still sitting in their jobs with their massive pensions waiting for them when they retire. A £20,000 claim to repair a bell tower and £10.7m spent on second-home allowances are just more examples of MPs taking taxpayers for a ride.

* The government must start investing in skills for the future. Three million young people are out of work and the figure is rising all the time – but Gordon Brown slashes the youth training budget by £350m. We have 300 youngsters asking us to take them on as apprentices each month and it’s so frustrating that the government leaves them high and dry by not helping employers pay their wages while they are training.

* Strikes should no longer be used by workers as a course of action to fight their corner. I sympathise, but when so many people have been hit so hard by the recession, dragging innocent third parties into a dispute – causing many of them further financial pain – is just plain out of order.

* I take on my next personal challenge. Going on Secret Millionaire gave me my first real stint “up north” and I came back a better person for it. Now I’m not going to get all sentimental about it but, having spent time with the three charities in Warrington, I was reminded how lucky I am. Although I’m still getting teased from the guys for not being able to work a can opener properly while I was there! Charlie Mullins launched Pimlico Plumbers in 1979 with just a bag of tools and a very old van bought at auction. It now has over 133 professional plumbers and a support team of around 35 staff, with a turnover of more than £15m.

Related articles:Charlie Mullins: “The government has failed young people”

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