Sorry for emailing out of the blue, but I thought you may be able to help me hi-light an issue with the Lib Dem's manifesto that has gone largely unreported, despite its potentially damaging consequences for the economy and in particular to those who dedicate themselves to starting and growing businesses (and creating jobs for others) such as ourselves.
I'm a young entrepreneur (26). I've so far set up two, soon to be three, companies that between them employ 7 full-time members of staff - hopefully more soon. We've undoubtedly suffered through the recession (one of the companies is involved with graduate recruitment, a particularly hard-hit sector), but we've managed to make it through.
The NI increase put forward by Labour wouldn't be great for any of the companies at this time, but there's a bigger issue that hasn't been getting very much attention - the Lib Dem's proposed Capital Gains Tax changes.
From the point of view of an entrepreneur these changes are a real kick in the teeth. They basically mean that, should any of their endeavours bear fruit in the form of the sale of a company, they would be taxed not at 10-18%, but at "income" rates of up to 50% (and with a reduced annual allowance too). That's hardly encouraging anyone start or grow a business; in fact quite the opposite.
It's even more worrying when you consider investors. I'm not sure about your own ventures, but two of my companies are backed by 'angel' investors. They have been prepared to take a large personal risk with not insubstantial sums in order to help these businesses get off the ground. Part of the reason they've been able to take these risks is that their investment gains are taxed at 0% (if EIS relief is granted) to 18% (standard rate). Under the Lib Dems, they would also be taxed at up to 50%. This would effectively make the investments of many such 'angel' investors, once risk is taken into account, uneconomic - they therefore just won't invest. This could cripple many startup companies at a time when we should surely be looking to expand the economy and create jobs by encouraging new businesses.
I invite any LibDems to respond to this.
UPDATE 11.00am : Here's another email I have just received.
I read your blogpost this morning on the LibDem Capital Gains Tax policy with great interest. I am an accountant by training, so this policy leapt out at me when I read the LibDem manifesto as being anti-enterprise and actually regressive and unworkable. So I raised the very issue with Vince Cable at a hustings on 22nd April and invited him to respond. His answer was that "the details would need to worked out" and that the LibDems would "consult widely". In other words, he admitted that his policy had not been thought through. Or costed.