With only a matter of days to go to the general election, business owners across the nation will be praying that whoever is in office the morning after the public has spoken will remember they exist.
So, knowing that the various party leaders closely follow the sage pronouncements of the Battle-Axe, here are the key policy demands that my own think tank “The Rolling-Pin Brandishers” have drawn up after consulting those very same business leaders:
An urgent root and branch reworking of the business rates system so that small independent businesses can afford to be on the high street. A good start would be using valuations to reflect current rather than drastically out-dated property values
Introduce within a month a proper Service Level Agreement for HMRC – one with serious teeth so that businesses know when to expect responses and repayments of tax and HMRC has to pay (in cash) for their errors
Invest to bring HMRC systems into the 20th (never mind the 21st) century so that businesses can see their tax positions at any time and where cash has been allocated – with the ability to correct it when HMRC’s have randomly (mis)allocated the payments (yet again)
Removal of a significant amount of the ever-rising mountain of red tape that businesses have to deal with but which adds no real value to anyone and holds back start-ups, growth and employment. That’s without introducing more rules to achieve the reduction, of course
An emergency Budget raising the VAT threshold dramatically so that local plumbers/builders/electricians/carpenters aren’t forced to add 20% to their prices just because they use high value materials – and just think how much less cash-in-hand work there would be
If Government departments insist on online filing, a real push on rolling out high speed broadband to all business premises
A continuation and expansion of the access to funding initiatives we have seen in recent years such as the Regional Growth Funds that have invested almost £3bn pounds to grow British business since they started in 2010.
Whatever colour the Government is after the election, small and medium-sized businesses will continue to be the life blood of the British economy and, as so often in the past, the real root and fount of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that makes Britain Great!
MR PRIME MINISTER (SADLY IT WILL BE): IGNORE US AT YOUR PERIL!
PS – failing any of the above demands, we still concur with the Monster Raving Loony Party’s long-held desire for a Royal Commission into the Hokey Cokey – to see if it really is what it’s all about.
Originally published in the Huddersfield Examiner on April 28th 2015