Let businesses get on with it, Mr Chancellor
With the budget just a couple of weeks away, my message to Philip Hammond is simple – do nothing.
Workplace pensions, business rates, the national living wage, the Making Tax Digital laws; I can’t remember a time when businesses have faced so many major distractions.
That’s before we even talk about tax where we recently overtook India as having the longest tax code in the world.
Our entrepreneurs are being prevented from running successful businesses that create jobs and wealth. We don’t want anything else getting in the way.
Take the living wage as an example. I don’t disagree that people should be paid more and, at a time when inflation is rising, we need wage inflation in the economy to keep people spending.
However, it’s not just the increased cost of paying employees a living wage that firms are dealing with. Other staff are demanding more pay to reflect their relative seniority.
In other words, the bar staff get more, so the bar supervisor wants more and so does the hotel manager. I’m aware of hospitality businesses who’ve had to put 30p on the price of a pint just to meet the knock-on effects of the living wage.
You might say that’s all part of being in business. But how can we expect people to invest in their businesses when they have so much else to deal with?
Unless the chancellor can do something so overwhelmingly positive it balances the economy, boosts exports and creates jobs in one fell swoop, I’d advise him to do as little as possible in this budget.
Just let business owners get on with it.