Tag Archives: business

A challenge for Labour on the development of jobs and businesses in Britain

What can the Liberal Democrats offer Labour voters who don’t like the way their great party is heading under Jeremy Corbyn? What, particularly, has our party to offer the working people of this country who have seen their standard of living drop under the Government’s austerity programme and can’t expect better if Brexit happens?

As the party that supports neither unbridled capitalism nor full-blooded socialism, we allow markets to operate as freely as possible, but intervene to ensure they are well-regulated and competitive, and to offer individual citizens greater powers and rights. “We want to build a new economy that really …

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Vince: Supermarket mega-merger must be referred to competition watchdog.

The news that two of the big four supermarkets in this country were in merger talks was greeted with concern with many people.

If this goes ahead, the new company would control 30% of the market which is in few enough hands as it is.

Vince Cable basically said that it was a no-brainer that this should be fully investigated before it was allowed. He said:

The grocery market – and the British shopper – already suffers from the mid-market being dominated by just a handful of big players. What the merger of the second and third biggest supermarkets threatens is the creation of

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A Case for British Chapter 11

It takes many years to develop a business and for it to grow. Enterprises employ millions of people who support their families and are the building blocks of our national wealth. Should we not be more supportive, as a society, when a company fails?

Since 2000, the number of businesses in the UK has increased each year, by 3% on average. In 2016, there were 2.2 million more businesses than in 2000, an increase of 64% over the whole period. Businesses actual employment of people has fallen since 2000 from around a third, to a quarter. This decline is due to the growth in self-employment. The total number of company’s insolvencies from 2013 to 2016 was just over 70,000 (Office of National Statistics).

In most countries, there are two tests for bankruptcy:

  • A company that cannot pay its debts because there is not enough money in the bank (this would tip a company in the UK into liquidation);
  • A company with liabilities that exceed its assets (the company can avoid liquidation if it can negotiate a deal with its creditors).

The UK’s insolvency system, on the whole, returns more money to creditors (as it’s more creditor centric) and is faster and cheaper than the United States, for example. However, a common complaint among struggling firms under the threat of insolvency is that the time for decision-making is too short. Critics believe firms need a longer period to consider their options and take decisions without jeopardising the company’s supply chain and increasing pressure on their cash flow, both of which will accelerate the commencement of insolvency. Therefore, there is a desire to ask the government to copy the Chapter 11 system in the United States, where companies are allowed 90 days’ grace.

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Vince Cable on Carillion: Shareholders are going to have to take a hit

Vince has been speaking about the Carillion crisis. The FT reports:

The Lib Dem leader’s intervention suggests the crisis at Carillion is about to become highly political; Sir Vince claimed last November that the government was “feeding” contracts to the company to try to keep it alive.

On Friday lenders to Carillion dismissed the company’s rescue plan and urged Downing Street to intervene.

But ministers will face fierce political criticism if they have to bailout a company which continued to receive major public contracts — including on the HS2 high speed rail line — after it issued a profit warning last July.

The government would also have to comply with EU state aid rules, but Sir Vince said that in the first instance the private sector should take a hit.

“The shareholders of the company are going to have to take a loss,” he told the BBC. “The creditors, the big banks who hold most of this debt, will have to write off some of it, perhaps replace some of it with shares.” 

You can watch his BBC interview here.

He’d earlier said on Twitter:

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Vince Cable: Lib Dems are the natural party of business

This morning, Vince Cable launched the Lib Dem Business and Entrepreneurs’ Network. It already has 80 leading figures from the business community, including angel investor Andrew Dixon and Chair of Allied Irish Banks Richard Pym.

He explained why the Lib Dems were the natural party of business:

And showed how the Government is letting business down:

Vince added:

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The Press Pack: A round-up of Lib Dem media comments – 22 August 2017

Here’s a roundup of  media comments made by Lib Dem parliamentarians and spokespeople today.

GP numbers

Norman Lamb slammed the Government for failing to deliver more GPs:

The government’s promise to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 lies in tatters, with fewer GPs now than when this pledge was first made.

“The pitiful increase we have seen in recent months is nowhere near enough to cope with rising patient demand.

“This failure to recruit enough doctors will inevitably have a damaging impact on the ability of patients to access the healthcare they need.

“We are already close to breaking point, with people in many parts of the country struggling to get appointments with their GP.

“More doctors are urgently needed to guarantee a fully-staffed NHS that provides everyone with the care they need.

Swinson criticises UK support for Trump Afghanistan move

The government didn’t really get round to condemning Donald Trump’s appalling remarks in the wake of Charlottesville, but they were quick off the mark to support him sending more troops to Afghanistan. Jo Swinson said:

For once, sense seems to have prevailed in the White House.

“But to succeed in Afghanistan will require winning the hearts and minds of its people and working closely with neighbouring countries.

“On that front, Donald Trump has already done untold damage through his proposed refugee ban, Islamophobic comments and cack-handed approach to foreign affairs.

“The government’s rapid statement of support for Trump today contrasts with its failure to swiftly condemn his divisive views and actions in the past.

“Simply pouring more troops into Afghanistan will not work without a broader strategy involving careful diplomacy and redoubled efforts to build a stable government.”

Even Brussels must be tired of this waffle

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Cable: Tories and Labour have turned their backs on the economy and business

Vince Cable makes a major intervention in the election campaign today with a speech on the economy and Brexit. He is not going to mince his words.

He will

  • Accuse both Labour and the Conservatives of adopting a Brexit strategy almost designed to inflict maximum economic damage by rejecting membership of the single market and customs union, as well as other benefits of the EU
  • Warn that the economic storm clouds are already gathering once more from rising inflation, falling real wages and rising personal debt to slowing spending and growth
  • Highlight the Liberal Democrats’ positive economic plan, including boosting spending while still achieving a surplus on the current budget
  • State that “under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leadership’s model for economic management is the bankrupt, hyper-inflationary Venezuela.”

Here’s a flavour of what he’s going to say.

If we crash out of the single market and customs union and revert to World Trade Organisation terms, respected independent estimates suggest that our trade will slump by almost a third by 2030. Far from turning Britain into a centre for exports, the main thing we would export under Theresa May would be jobs.

Labour’s plans for a spending spree funded by taxing the rich and corporations have been described by the IFS as wholly unrealistic, and will certainly scare off the investment and talent that are fundamental to our global economy. The May-Farage extreme Brexit that Labour voted for will drive out high-earners and leading international companies, leaving lower tax receipts for public spending.

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Business leaders: Only Lib Dems are speaking for business and the people

In a letter, more than 50 business leaders, including Nicola Horlick and the founders of EBookers and Innocent Drinks, have said that they will be voting Liberal Democrat because of our stance on Brexit.

From the Times (£)

The 53 signatories who say they intend to vote Lib Dem include senior players in the investment and IT sectors, two industries that could be hit by a poor Brexit deal. They represent small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) rather than FTSE 100 companies.

“The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business,” the letter reads. “While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.”

Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Drinks and board member of Britain Stronger in Europe, Dinesh Dhamija, the founder of the Ebookers travel site and the businesswoman Nicola Horlick are among the signatories.

In response, Vince Cable said:

The Liberal Democrats now have support from a large number of serious figures in the business community, showing that we are rapidly emerging as the party of business, both big and small.

Theresa May’s determination to take us out of the single market would devastate the financial sector, while taking us out of the customs union would cause incalculable disruption to manufacturing .

Theresa May herself warned of the Brexit dangers to our exports in a speech at Goldman Sachs. Since then she has taken on the agenda of Nigel Farage, who has understandably declared himself delighted with her.

That is scary. It is vital that the next parliament contains enough Liberal Democrat voices to argue for Britain’s future in the world’s most lucrative single market. The more Liberal Democrat MPs, the better the deal we can secure on Europe.

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Rennie: We need to keep access to EU markets easy for business

Willie Rennie argues today that we need to make sure that we keep access to EU markets easy for business. We don’t want to be putting borders up, creating more red tape, which could cause problems and cut jobs. He says:

At the heart of the argument for remaining in Europe is a single market, making trade easier, and allowing businesses based on innovation and excellence to thrive is going to underpin our future success.

That was the argument that won the independence referendum and is just as powerful now.

Three million jobs in Britain depend on Europe. We need to make Europe easy for business.

As part of Europe we are part of an economic market worth trillions. There are 500 million customers.

It means that a Scottish company that is good and efficient at its job can expand across the continent.

Easy access to 500 million customers is worth millions of jobs in Britain.

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It’s the UK itself not the EU holding our industry back.

Our EU membership is holding us back from trading with the rest of the world and awful EU regulation is to blame for struggling small businesses in the UK. Sound familiar? It’s the broken record of the Leave campaign’s business message. This group of politicians wants to portray the UK like a child who needs to have the umbilical cord cut, in order to be set free and conquer the world. In reality, leave or stay in the EU, there is plenty we could be doing to help business and trade, all of which is within our power today.

Lets start with tax. Current UK tax law runs into a total of a staggering 10 million words. Every Chancellor for the last 20 years has added to the problem and only recently has an office for tax simplification been set up, so far with little effect. Small businesses find it impossible to get through to HMRC on the phone while large corporates have easy access to HMRC officials in order to do deals like the one Google struck. Fixing the complexity in our tax system would really help our small business owners to thrive much more than repealing EU legislation actually designed to ensure the single market works for all.

When it comes to the internet, the UK’s slowest recorded broadband speed is slower than at the base camp at Everest. This is like a 1900’s steam train compared to Korea where speeds 25 times higher have been recorded. It is the lack of willingness to invest by government and industry in broadband infrastructure and not the EU which are to blame here.

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Pro-business or pro-enterprise? Why the difference matters

 

What does it mean to be a ‘pro-business’ political party?

This is not an easy question to answer, although that has not stopped many political parties from describing themselves as such. Businesses are not homogenous: from sole trader to global corporation, the requirements and priorities of firms are as diverse as the requirements and priorities of the individuals who own and staff them. Policies and laws that are highly favourable to one business or sector can be – and frequently are – disastrous for another. It is entirely possible to adopt policies that are pro some businesses, but where some businesses win others must lose. Choosing which businesses win and which lose is inherently political.

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Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna criticise Government’s industrial strategy in Independent article

Vince Cable has teamed up with Chuka Umunna in an Independent article that warns of the likely consequences if Vince’s former department of Business, Innovation and Skills suffers the massive cuts predicted. It’s not a protected department, so its budget could be cut by up to 40%. That would make it difficult to continue Vince’s successful industrial strategy:

One of the positive legacies of the Coalition government was the establishment of an ‘industrial strategy’ with the same objectives. It was successful in attracting a lot of support from business in general and in key sectors like automotive, aerospace, bio-tech, creative industries, energy and railway supply chains and construction. In vehicles and aerospace, especially, a large amount of private sector and government money was committed to R&D. The approach was flexible, accommodating and welcoming of disruptive technologies and the emergence of new industries. Before the election, the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems (and the SNP) subscribed to the industrial strategy.

There has been a deafening silence since. We are now past the first 100 days: the government’s honeymoon. There is no excuse for lack of clarity over a key area of government policy. There may be an innocent explanation: a wish by the Conservative government to rebrand the industrial strategy as part of its ‘Long Term Economic Plan’, while work quietly proceeds in the background. A more worrying possibility is that the ideologues in government have got their teeth into it believing, against all previous experience, that market failures will correct themselves and that the UK economy will achieve balanced, sustained, recovery thanks to resurgent banking and app start-ups in Shoreditch.

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Where are the Lib Dem business networks?

 

After many years on the cusp of joining the party, I finally made the decision to join the Lib Dems immediately after that fateful day in May. My motivations, I am sure, were much the same as those of many other waverers – despite having a stubborn, independent streak that made me loath to join a party (any party), and hesitation over the policies of the Coalition, I could no longer stand by and expect others to shoulder the burden of protecting liberal values and defending individual rights.

I can safely say that I haven’t regretted my decision for a moment: the warm welcome from Greenwich Borough Lib Dems, and the party as a whole, has reaffirmed my belief that liberalism has a bright future in English politics.

As a small business manager, one aspect of the Lib Dems that I have always found most attractive is its independence from vested interests. Not being dominated by – or acting as a mouthpiece for – the sectional interests of organised labour or powerful corporations is, for me, what allows our party to genuinely stand for individual rights and wellbeing. It is this independence which also makes the Lib Dems the natural home of the entrepreneur, the shopkeeper and the SME business manager – the small and the brave – as the social freedoms which we strive for as a party are those which independent businesses require in order to thrive.

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The Independent View: Ministry of Justice costs reforms undermine Vince Cable’s aim of tackling rogue directors

Statue of Justice - The Old BaileyA key message the Business Secretary Vince Cable has been keen to stress during his time in government is the need to tackle rogue directors: he’s announced plans to produce “stronger deterrents” and “more robust sanctions” to quash ‘dodgy directors’. Dr Cable’s – and insolvency minister Jo Swinson’s – policies on protecting creditors from rogue directors are certainly worth developing, but they are at risk of being undermined by policies being put forward by the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice has been seeking to tackle the costs of litigation, but its reforms will end up having a big impact on the insolvency profession’s ability to combat rogue directors and will have disastrous and costly consequences for small business creditors and the taxpayer.

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Vince Cable writes…Strengthening confidence in the UK’s takeover laws

London Stock Exchange photo by Jam_90sThe attempted but abortive Pfizer takeover bid for AstraZeneca has triggered a timely political debate in the UK about whether the safeguards in mergers and takeover legislation are adequate – especially when significant research and development assets are at stake.  It is now clear to me that some changes should be made.

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Lorely Burt to support female entrepreneurs

lorely-outside-parliament-1 lorely burtVince Cable has appointed Lorely Burt to a new role aimed at promoting and supporting female entrepreneurs. From the Yorkshire Post:

Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt will help women-led businesses to understand the help available to their new and growing firms.

She started her career in the prison service and rose to become assistant governor at HMP Holloway, a tough female-only prison in North London.

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Michael Moore appointed as EU Business Adviser to Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg has asked former Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore to be his Adviser on European business affairs. The unpaid role will see Michael working with businesses across the UK to understand the key trade, investment and regulatory issue affecting their dealings in the European Union.

He will carry out a review of the issues and report to Nick Clegg by the Summer.

Michael Moore said:

Britain’s engagement with the rest of Europe is fundamental to our future economic well-being. At this crucial moment in the development of the UK’s relationship with the EU, I am delighted to take on this

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Jo Swinson MP writes… Liberal Democrat aim of transparent company ownership becomes a reality

Today the Prime Minister announced the very welcome news that the UK will have an open public register of beneficial ownership – something Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for. By making business more transparent, so that anyone can find out who really owns and controls a company, we strengthen the image of the UK as a clean and trusted place to do business.

As it stands UK companies currently have a register which lists who directly holds their shares but you can’t always tell who the ultimate beneficial owner is. With no duty for companies to hold this information individuals can …

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The Independent View: The Lib Dems can – and should – be the Party of the Entrepreneurs

Every party claims, in some way, to be on the side of small business, but none has really given new and potential businesses much time or attention. Firms that do not yet exist are much less easy to champion and harder still to help than existing small businesses, but they are no less important.

It may be no wonder, then, that not one of the three main party leaders mentioned entrepreneurs in their Autumn conference speeches. That’s why today we at the Adam Smith Institute are helping to launch The Entrepreneurs Network, a new think tank dedicated to giving …

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Don Foster MP writes… Access to finance for ethnic minority businesses

Liberal Democrats want to create a Stronger Economy in a Fairer Society. In order to do this it is vital that no one section of society is unnecessarily prevented from starting a new business should they wish to do so. However, evidence suggests that people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are often keen to start a business but for a variety of reasons don’t go through with it. The National Audit Office estimates that the cost to our economy from the failure to fully use the talents of people from our ethnic minority population could be more than …

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Vince Cable: UK single market is good for business

Vince Cable has been in Edinburgh today to launch the fourth in the series of  “Scotland Analysis” papers produced by the UK Government about the effect of independence for Scotland on a variety of issues. Today, the spotlight is on business regulation and the changes that independence would force on businesses both in Scotland and the rest of the UK with two separate regulatory systems to get round. The example Vince cited on a Radio Scotland interview this morning (which you can listen to here) was a simple one of buying petrol on either side of the border, …

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Jo Swinson announces consultation on streamlining businesses’ appeal process

From The Guardian:

The ability of big business to deploy armies of lawyers to prevent regulators from introducing consumer-friendly measures will be curbed under proposals published by the government on Wednesday.

The Business minister, Jo Swinson, is proposing a streamlined appeals system for challenging decisions by the UK’s economic regulators, which include Ofcom, the Competition Commission, Ofwat and the Office of the Rail Regulator.

Over the last five years there have been more than 50 appeals of regulatory and competition decisions.Legal challenges have caused delays to the

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Opinion: Euroscepticism is bad for UK manufacturing

In February 2012, Vince Cable flew to the US to meet with the Chief Executive of General Motors to make the case for why they should continue to invest in the UK for the long term. The BBC reported that the meeting may have played an important role in the company’s decision 3 months later to commit to invest in Ellesmere Port rather than at another of their EU plants.

It is lucky, perhaps, that this investment decision did not come up one year later. Vince would have had a few less cards in his hand. Michael Heseltine put it …

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Opinion: Get real about corporate tax

Companies currently pay corporation tax in the country where they are incorporated. A campaign is under way, in the Guardian, and the Commons Public Accounts Committee, that companies should instead pay tax where they make their sales. The proposal has populist appeal, but is impracticable.

Many companies, including UK companies, make export sales without costly incorporation in each sales country. If a US coal producer sells 1m tonnes of coal to UK powerplants for £100m, and makes £5m profit, it submits accounts in the US for tax authority scrutiny, and pays US tax on the £5m. Should this profit be …

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Michael Moore’s Westminster Notes

Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.

Borders Businesses

As the new GDP figures point in the right direction and a return to growth, I am working with local business here in the Borders to ensure they receive the support and advice they need to grow and create jobs for local people. At the moment I am conducting a Business Survey to assist me in this work and I want to encourage any business in Berwickshire which has not yet received one of these surveys to contact …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Every week Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here is this week’s edition.

Olympic Torch in the Borders

 With the London Olympics just around the corner, it was great to be part of the crowd welcoming the Torch to the Borders last week. It received a very warm reception and it was fantastic to see so many people getting behind the event. The Torch’s eight day journey through Scotland has given us an opportunity to showcase everything Scotland has to offer and I would like to thank everyone in

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Nick Clegg leads business fightback in Europe

The FT reports:

Nick Clegg yesterday made a very public display of engagement with business over Europe as the deputy prime minister convened a business breakfast with Business For New Europe, a pro-single market group. Mr Clegg, flanked by Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, Chris Huhne David Laws, wanted to get the message across that he had dusted himself down and was ready to begin work on rebuilding relations on the continent after a bruising week for Britain.

But beyond the photo shoot and crafted media message lines, was a second, more exclusive meeting between Mr Clegg and the director-generals of key lobby

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Vince Cable speech to conference

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference today, Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, Vince Cable said:

I have come to account to you, Conference, for the work I have been carrying out in the Coalition Government.

I have managed to infuriate the bank bosses; acquire a fatwa from the revolutionary guards of the trades union movement; frighten the Daily Telegraph with a progressive graduate payment; and upset very rich people who are trying to dodge British taxes. I must be doing something right.

But I am told that I look miserable. I’m sorry, conference, this is my happy face. ‘Aren’t you having fun?’ …

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Lib Dems launch ‘Enterprise in a fair society’ plans to boost business

Want to know what the Lib Dems will do to boost the enterprise culture here in the UK? Well, Nick Clegg and shadow business secretary John Thurso this week launched their programme in keeping with the party’s campaign emphasis on fairness, Enterprise in a fair society.

Here’s the party’s news release announcing the programe …

The proposals include:

    * Restoring a public interest test for regulatory authorities to consider when takeovers are proposed and changing the rules on which shareholders can vote on takeover proposals

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