What is it with politicians? Why do they think they can run businesses better than those of us who do? Thebest thing government can do is leave businesses to innovate, create jobs and make profits. Yes, profit. That’s what pays the tax that funds all the services government wishes to provide. The trouble is that successive governments seem to think that the more regulation they impose on businesses, the more successful those business will be. It’s a remarkable delusion. Vince Cable has to be the most business-unfriendly Business Secretary in living memory. I won’t recite here all the things he has done to impose more regulation and costs onto business in the last 18 months, but it is quite a list. But today he really has topped them all.
It appears that the Business Secretary now wishes to … and I can’t believe I am writing this … he now wishes to tell employers that workers who become ill while on holiday will be legally entitled to extra time off work*. Yup, you read that right. Every time, it’s the poor sodding employer who has to pay up. Of course employees have rights, but what about employers? This rule is expected to apply to every size of company.
The government reckons this will cost companies £100 million a year, so you can rest assured it will be a multiple of that.I employ around 20 people. Every time the government puts extra regulation on my company it just makes me wonder why I bother. And you know, if it carries on much longer, one day I won’t. Because it won’t be worth the candle. A climate is being created in this country where people who risk everything to start a new business are being villified and penalised. Risk means reward, and if entrepreneurs come to believe that the rewards are just not worth the risk, they won’t start new businesses at all. It is small and medium size enterprises who are the key to our economic recovery. The government should be telling them they will do anything to help them get off the ground and if they’re successful, keep as much of the profit as possible. Very few small business owners earn £150,000 and qualify for the 50p tax rate, but they aspire to do so – earn the money, that is, not pay a marginal rate of more than 60%. If you snuff our aspiration and ambition you, as a government, deserve all you get. And that’s what is happening at the moment. And this new measure of extra time off for people who fall ill on holiday is just the latest manifestation of an attitude in government that is deeply demotivational to any business owner.
This government came into power promising to cut red tape and to deregulate. It has done nothing of the sort. Hardly a surprise when you put a quasi-socialist in charge of an economic department. When the reshuffle comes, let’s put a free market Conservative in charge of the Business Department and put Vince Cable somewhere he can do little harm. The back benches.