James Caan, champion of entrepreneurship and star of BBC TVs Dragons’ Den, analysed the policies of the Labour and Conservative parties today, in search of solace for small business prior to the General Election.
“Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s) obviously have a huge part to play in the economic recovery and providing employment growth,“ said James Caan. “Currently, all parties are claiming to have prioritized help to SME’s, but that help comes in various policy forms.”
“Labour and the Conservatives seem to be offering alternative policy focuses for economic recovery, and their plans for deficit reduction depend upon the successful impact of their respective policies. I believe that the recovery needs to be business-led, with particular support for SME’s, and the Conservatives are most convincing on this aspect at the moment.”
“Labour have outlined a series of encouraging measures as part of their £2.5bn Growth Package to help small businesses, but Alistair Darling’s budget claimed to be based on the lowest end of Bank of England growth estimates,“ said Caan, “but I am convinced that his growth figures are exaggerated. If this is the case, his borrowing projections also look imprudent.“
Caan states that viable SME’s are continuing to struggle to access the credit that they need, and emphasises that Labour have largely failed to ensure that access over the past year. Moreover, “their plans to ensure that Lloyds and RBS lend to SME’s by setting targets and creating a Credit Adjudicator Service (CAS) are ambiguous“ said Caan. “Their plans to raise National Insurance Contributions will also cost of thousands of jobs.“
Caan believes that the Conservative Party has a stronger focus on business and will also be more successful in reassuring the financial markets.
“The Tories place a different and greater emphasis on making it easier for SME’s to operate, and are willing to actually cut taxes here. Their plan to keep NI at its current level will protect jobs in the private sector, and it will act as an incentive for business.“ he said.
Caan is impressed by George Osborne’s promise to cut the deficit faster than Labour, and to put more emphasis on spending cuts rather than tax rises. “Cutting the deficit will be easier given a stronger business-led recovery.”
“Regardless of who wins the election, market led growth will be crucial, but this needs to be implemented with minimal transitional cost in terms of jobs,“ said Caan. “At the moment, the Tories will be receiving the entrepreneurial vote, and I think that current employees and jobseekers will also welcome the NI relief on employers to employ them.“
James Caan has a good understanding of the needs of small businesses. He has created many millionaires, and has launched his Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy. James Caan has co-chaired the government’s Ethnic Minorities Business Task Force, reporting directly to business secretary Lord Peter Mandelson.
Lord Mandy will not be pleased. Expect the slurs on James Caan to begin shortly...
UPDATE 11pm: How odd. Caan has just appeared on Newsnight arguing against everything he said in this statement and effectively backing Labour. Has Mandy leaned on him? Either that or he's just a flake.