The Entrepreneur's Budget: Michael Oliver, Oliver Valves

Michael Oliver founded his specialist valve company 30 years ago from his garage. He's seen Budgets - and indeed governments - come and go. Here's what he would like to see Osborne pull out of the red briefcase next week.

by Michael Oliver
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Like a patient slipping in and out of consciousness, the UK economy remains teetering on the brink of another recession. Meanwhile, our manufacturers - who have the power to revive its fortunes - continue to suffer as a result of uncoordinated government policy.

Rarely, in my 60 years in business, has a Budget been more crucial to kick start a revival. This is why I have written to George Osborne, personally, outlining ten simple policy and spending measures needed to help the UK’s manufacturing base thrive.  

I believe it represents a common sense manifesto for business.

1.    Place exporters at the heart of a growth economy

Consider a banking- government-business coordinated approach to winning export orders.

2.    Tax the bankers, not exporters

Tax relief of £0.10 for every £1 exported for engineering and manufacturing companies.

3.    Level the playing field between UK plc and its competitors

Reform the UK’s recently enacted Bribery and Corruption Laws which are handing an unfair advantage to foreign competitors in emerging markets and are virtually impossible to manage for overseas sales agents.

4.    Restore Britain’s reputation as the workshop of the world

Create a coherent long-term manufacturing strategy to help the UK close the gap with its peers in Germany.

5.    We need a nation with more engineers not shelf stackers

Increase grant funding to help sustain more skilled apprenticeships places in UK manufacturing firms at the expense of unpaid work experience programmes in supermarkets.

6.    Get the economy out of its rut with tax cuts to boost growth

Further cut corporate taxes to boost growth and reduce National Insurance contributions.

7.    To give businesses the power to employ and terminate who they need

Robustly reappraise Britain’s commitment to onerous EU employment regulations and negotiate a fairer deal for UK businesses regarding employment issues.

8.    End the dangerous culture of penalising our successful, wealth creators

Cut the 50 per cent top tax rate which de-motivates our entrepreneurs.

9.    Reward and incentivise the innovators of tomorrow

Further increase R&D tax breaks to expand development costs.

10.    Link banks with manufacturers and Government - as Japan did in the past - to help dig the economy out of the hole they put us in

Create "a Minister for Coordination" to assess the major banks performance and to improve communication between them, Government and industry.  

Today, business legislation has become so taxing that it will be harder for this generation’s young entrepreneurs to be able to repeat my own success.   

The Coalition has done little to lift the veil of confusion which remains and instead has embarked on its own lack of overall vision policies such as youth unemployment schemes that will barely dent the growing skills gap in the manufacturing economy.

The Government has devoted plenty of lip service to us manufacturers, but now it’s time for Mr Osborne and his colleagues to put their money where their mouth is.

Michael Oliver is chairman and founder of one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of specialist valves for global oil and gas firms, Oliver Valves. Today he employs 350 people at the firm’s Cheshire headquarters with profitable global sales in excess of £65m.

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