At last, the Easter break is upon us, hopefully giving us a break from the constant utterings of politicians engaged on a very long election campaign.
Part of my work involves visiting the business shows at the NEC, which gives me an insight into other business owners’ thoughts.
Here is just a few of the gripes that keep arising:
First, despite all the promises from Government, the amount of red tape involved in running a business continues to increase, the latest tranche being the setting up and processing of pension schemes.
Secondly, Government constantly extols businesses to export, particularly those involved in manufacturing. Why therefore can’t we claim back Airline Passenger Duty rather like VAT?
Osborne tinkered with the edges in his last Budget, but this imposition is a direct tax on all those involved with travelling abroad to secure vital orders. It should be reclaimable.
Edward Heath said the Common Market would be a level playing field, yet Holland has zero APD.
Thirdly, health and safety requirements continue to expand. No-one with any common sense would run a business which was not safe for its employees, but the amount of regulations, and the unnecessary detail contained therein, continues to add to cost. Life itself is a risk.
On the plus side, there is a general acceptance there is more activity in the manufacturing world, although margins are still very tight.
However, there is universal agreement that the increase in terms percent, is not as great as Government is suggesting.
One very encouraging fact is an increasing number of manufacturers are winning back orders from Far East suppliers.
The reason is not so much to do with price, but with quality, plus the fact customers can modify designs more quickly, and do not have to guess demand eight to 12 weeks ahead.
This is very good news, and I hope this trend will gather pace.
The NEC is not only a superb market place, but provides the opportunity to meet kindred spirits exchanging ideas which can generate opportunities.
Politicians, take note.
* Russell Luckock is chairman of pressings firm AE Harris