Mike Clare: “Give start-ups a (tax) break”

Clare, who launched Dreams in 1985 and sold the bed superstore chain in March for £230m, said entrepreneurs should be allowed to defer National Insurance contributions until their business is off the ground – “rather like a student loan – you pay it off when you can afford to.”

“Data protection. Corporate Manslaughter Acts. Health & Safety. Taken altogether, the legislative burden on start-ups is ridiculous,” he said.

Clare reckons regulations should be graded A, B or C. “Those in category A are absolutely necessary and would apply to businesses of all sizes. When you hit, say, the £2m-turnover mark, then you’d have to comply with the extra rules in band B, and so on.”

The 53-year-old entrepreneur remembers opening his first shop in Uxbridge in the eighties. When customers needed to answer the call of nature, he’d let them use the staff toilet at the back of the store. Little did he realise that he was falling foul of the law. “The toilet didn’t have disabled facilities, so we were told we’d have to send Joe Public away.

“Frankly, those types of regulation shouldn’t apply to start-ups. There needs to be a reprieve from red tape.”

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