FTB welcomes Tory/Lib Dem coalition

Published:  13 May, 2010

KNUTSFORD: The Forum of Private Business has given a cautious welcome to the appointment of the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his forming of a coalition government between his party and the Liberal Democrats.

The small business support group hopes this evening's announcement will mark the start of a stable and functional administration, which is committed to ensuring economic recovery.

Forum chief executive Phil Orford said: "There's no doubt that the past week has been an anxious and worrying time for small business owners.

"Smaller firms urgently need some degree of certainty so they can begin to plan for the future. Hopefully, Mr Cameron's appointment will herald the beginning of a workable government which will ensure economic stability and give smaller firms the confidence to aspire and grow."

Mr Orford added: "I would like all politicians of all political persuasions to show responsibility and put aside their differences in order to avoid pushing the UK into further economic turmoil. It is imperative that our MPs put aside point-scoring and work together to make Britain a stable and prosperous place to run a business."

Recent Forum research found that almost three quarters (70%) of small business owners were already finding it difficult to plan for 2010, even before last week's general election result.

The Forum has already set out what it thinks the priorities for the new Government should be in its election manifesto, which has been circulated among prospective MPs and policymakers.

Those priorities are:

• Free enterprise – the Forum believes that the greatest drivers of growth in the UK economy will come from small businesses, with new ideas borne in rapidly changing sectors and developed at a speed that traditional models of government spending will not have the agility to support.

• Fiscal responsibility – securing the UK's reputation as a good place to do business will mean bringing Britain's finances under control. That will mean a combination of smart taxation and smarter cuts to public spending.

• Stability – whichever party is elected, the Forum believes that any drastic cuts to government programmes and initiatives should be balanced out with the need to ameliorate the damage of the recession. Put simply, there should be a continuity of support that goes beyond party politics.

• New technologies, new markets – as new technologies develop and new markets open around the world, there should be equal opportunities for small businesses to develop new business models in innovative ways.

The Forum is also calling on the new Government to completely scrap the planned rise in National Insurance contributions. The Conservatives have pledged to cut that rise in half but the Forum is arguing that it should be dropped completely to avoid taxing employment as the economy heads out of recession.

The Forum's Tax and Budget Member Panel recently found that 68% of small businesses feel that the tax burden is already unfair for small employers and 65% said that taxes overall are a serious problem for their business.

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