Coalition Snapshot: Business Reactions

Last Updated May 13, 2010 7:48 AM EDT

Vince Cable's appointment to business secretary
Once described himself as "a friend of business, but a critical friend", he'll act as a tough chairman-like figure for UK business.

Business groups are mostly positive about Vince Cable's new role -- although former Chancellor Ken Clarke's shift to justice seems a waste of valuable experience.

A former oil-company executive, Cable's known to be anti-red tape and a friend to small business. The British Chambers of Commerce's director-general, David Frost, is in favour of Cable's "relentless focus on making sure that banks lend to viable, credit-worth businesses..." and his understanding of the UK's position in global markets.

But the financial sector's a little more concerned: Cable's been an outspoken critic of the beefy bonus culture and has called for a cap on bankers' bonuses. He's also pro-banking reform (favouring small business access to credit) and has advocated breaking up the big banks, leading to fears that the UK will lose lucrative financial institutions -- and jobs -- to other emerging centres. While publicy, bodies such as the British Bankers' Association are sanguine about his appointment, private sentiments may echo those of David Buik of BGC Partners, quoted in the Independent today as saying: "If we adopt his [Cable's] plans for bank regulation, I suggest we send for two men in white coats."

Capital Gains Tax changes
Again, it's the financial sector that's most concerned about proposed rises to CGT on 'non-business' capital, which could hurt investment. The British Venture Capital Association has cautioned the new government against "hasty" decisions that might send investors to other countries where CGT is zero (Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Hong Kong and Switzerland).
Environment
Willie Walsh, BA's boss, is none too happy that there will be no airport expansion at Heathrow (he's called it the "biggest mistake ever"). Added to that is the environmental tax on flights (which replaces passenger duty), which BA predicts will not only disadvantage the travel industry, but lead to higher emissions.

Potential VAT rise
Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury, requested that if it must rise to 20 percent, UK retailers should be given ample notice and the rise should be sustained for a long period.

(Pic: say_cheddar cc2.0)