The general election is now a little over two weeks away, with the leaders of each party ramping up their travel and promotional commitments.
At Real Business, we’ve been quizzing business owners around the UK to form a comprehensive examination of what these key contributors to the British economy want.
Who are you and what does your business do?
I’m Peter Chadha, of DrPete Technology Experts. In a nutshell our business is a strategic management consultancy that helps drive our clients business through better IT, here in the UK as well as undertaking projects around the world.
How has your business changed over the last five years?
Business continues to get more competitive. The continued uptake in the use of web-based and social media services has brought greater transparency, and better use of technology means that in a service industry we are competing with organisations from any part of the globe.
Add to this the impact of the recession where the players that have survived are smarter and thriftier than ever. For example, in a recent review which was tendered by a FTSE 100 company, we were competing with a South African IT consultancy – naturally this meant that we needed to find ways of reducing the project price as the cost base in Africa is significantly less. But, despite this, we did get the job.
What are your growth plans for the next five years?
The group will continue to expand by strategic investments in new subsidiaries, new technologies and new processes. Our mission for 2015 is to develop an IT outsourcing business which we have recently started – with the dramatic uptake of cloud there seems to be a large opportunity for us to save clients lots of money for outsourced IT services, which they tend to find problematic in house.
What kind of government would you like to see elected?
There seems to be a general consensus from what the different political parties are saying that small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of the UK. They are actually caring and investing time into understanding the business environment with policies such as ensuring prompt payment and so on.
This is great news, but I worry about things like increased regulation and increased impediments and burden on employing people. For example, the cost of pensions through auto-enrolment – both implementing and ongoing cost – is a concern for any SME in the future.
Greater restrictions on employing people on contract and tightened immigration policies could also have a negative impact. Whilst I do actually want immigration controls, I want sensible ones that allow for skilled people to come to the UK from wherever they are.
Regrettably, successive governments have failed on transport and while I’m encouraged to know about HS2 and Crossrail, all parties seem to be oblivious, or scared, to fix the desperate need to solve our problems at airports.
Having just come back from Dubai where there is such an emphasis on transport I think the parties have to grapple with the challenge and actually expand both Heathrow and Gatwick in the south east as well as other airports around the country. It is an absolute pain connecting through the UK and I suffer frequent delays whenever I’m travelling abroad especially from Heathrow. This costs real money to the county.
At the same time from a business point of view we should be thinking about making new houses and business parks which will have to be on greenfield sites if we want to expand the economy. The arguments to sustain the greenbelt are unbalanced – whilst I don’t want to see us lose the countryside we have to be realistic about planning on these areas to accommodate our people and businesses.
On the technology front I think all parties should be doing much more in the way of helping companies embrace technology. For example, we were promised that video-conferencing would alleviate the need to travel. If companies were incentivised to do this I’m sure it would reduce the number of people sent around the country clogging up our road network. It’s as important as computer-based driverless driving!
There should also be a big push for government services to be made more mobile. Today the PC and web browser is fast becoming the secondary medium for interaction after mobile. The Labour manifesto has pledged to use digital technology to create a “more responsive, devolved, and less costly system of government” – a mobile-first strategy would be helpful in this regard.
Read other “I’m voting as…” features:
- Develop Training CEO Chris Wood
- OMS managing director Clive Ormerod
- Rezonence founding director Tim Greatrex
Do you think government in general is doing enough to support businesses of your size?
We do not have much interaction with the government. There is little in the way of helpful proactive support other than advice to our finance team from HMRC. We tend to get on and do our own work liaising with our peers, clients and advisers – such as our accountants.
It would be an idea for government to offer direct proactive support, especially to a more complex and sophisticated business like ours. For example how do we leverage international markets better?
Has the impending general election caused any uncertainty regarding how you run your company?
We have noticed that a couple of our clients are getting slightly nervous about what may happen if there is another coalition, and there is a long or difficult handover. Some don’t like the unknown regarding taxation, given that all parties seem to be targeting what is today legitimate tax planning – which dissuades them from investing.
Finally, while I do support a major party, I don’t mind coalition. I think the contention brings better outcomes and more transparency.
In one sentence, please finish this line: “I’m voting as…”
I’m voting as a an internationally focused entrepreneur who wants to see Britain as a dynamic industrious trading nation at the heart of the globe – with a British conscience or fair-mindedness to look after those well off or in need.
Read more from our general election coverage:
- Matthew Hancock: The facts should be checked before Labour starts to make wishes
- Chuka Umunna: “We have to stop gold plating European rules and regulations”
- What to expect in the upcoming 2015 general election
Do you agree with Peter Chadha? Is there anything you’d like to add? Please let us know in the comments box below.
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