Budget 2010: If I Were Chancellor...

Last Updated Mar 22, 2010 8:26 AM EDT

If you've followed the Sunday Times's revelations of secret conversations with former trade secretary Stephen Byers, you'd argue that the further business and politics stayed apart, the better.

But in the week of the Budget, the year of the General Election and at the tail-end of a recession, that's not a realistic consideration. So what does business want from the Chancellor? We asked five business bosses from manufacturing to services to give us their view.

  • John Timpson, chairman of Timpson Normally, I'd want the government to do absolutely nothing -- they just keep changing things for change's sake. But that's not possible in the current situation. If I were Chancellor, I'd start with my own department, making revenue more efficient. Business wants stability, not constant changes. It's a given that income should be greater than expenditure, so the country will pay heavily for over-spending on RDAs, talking shops, quangos.
  • Paul Bennett, MD, Fascia Graphic The Chancellor should introduce new initiatives that focus on rebuilding manufacturing capacity in the UK and promoting exports. We're just about to increase the level of business we do with overseas customers, and measures to support this will be critical.
  • Julian Lewis, MD, Positive Computing If I were Chancellor, I know what I wouldn't do -- I wouldn't do anything that looked like electioneering and I'd avoid anything that was 'popular' right now, but not necessarily beneficial for the long-term. Last, I wouldn't go back on any policies that I said six months ago would lead us out of the recession. Right now, the biggest problem is lack of confidence, which is hampering spending and discouraging small business to hire new staff. So if I were Chancellor I would use the upcoming budget as a platform to restore confidence in the UK economy.
  • Brad Burton, MD, of 4Networking I would give small businesses like myself a break from National Insurance contribution tax. It's hard enough to start up a business, let alone grow it and make it profitable. Right when businesses need support, start-ups are being constantly hit with these taxes making it almost impossible to get off the ground. It would be more beneficial for everyone if the government cultivated small businesses and helped then grow and prosper to become medium and large businesses. After all, its large businesses that generate revenues and that's exactly what we need, especially in the current economic state.
  • Alastair Storey, CEO, BaxterStorey The Chancellor certainly has to make some tough choices, in my mind, the most important decision is to deliver a budget that seeks to put the country's long term economic interests at its heart rather than being a tool to support short term political gain. To make a start means taking positive steps to reduce public sector expenditure, the impact of which will inevitably mean public sector job losses. It's vital that he provides incentives for the private sector to employ as many as possible. Initiatives that encourage employers to invest in training and keep people in work will be welcomed by the public and business alike. Over-burdening business directly or indirectly will be counterproductive.