Let small business off the leash


One of the most commendable reasons that many gave for voting Leave was that in a post brexit Britain government could hack away at the litany of regulations that shackle British enterprise, the quicksand in which so many small businesses are lost before they ever have a chance.

The ‘Revelation’ that Andrea Leadsom once urged the government to, “Scrap the entire burden of regulation on micro-businesses with three employees or fewer,” is a perfect example of the pro-business attitude that is crucial to our future outside of the EU. The left is obviously frothing at the mouth at the prospect of a potential Prime Minister ripping away maternity, pension and minimum wage rights. But I say that these ideas should form the basis of a nascent discussion about how to we can help business to thrive in a post-EU Britain.

The benefits could be enormous. How many businesses could finally breathe without the restriction of overregulation? How many shop-front sandwich bars could then compete with Starbucks? How many micro-pubs could undercut Wetherspoons? How many ‘Mom-&-Pop’ bakeries could hold their own against Greggs? These proposals could herald a new era of competition and choice like never before, arresting the sorry decline of our high streets and reinvigorating the communities they support. Imagine an explosion of enterprise and commerce right on your doorstep! A ‘Big Bang’ for the common man.

Regulation always favours the big boys, the corporations rub their hands with glee at every EU diktat knowing it’ll wipe away another layer of competition and ensure their continued dominance of the market. Leadsom’s ideas offer hope to thousands of small businesses across the country who are eternally discouraged from expansion due to the fear of opening the Pandora’s box of employment law, not to mention those that never get off the ground in the first place – all those hopes and dreams that end up in the bank manager’s shredder.

In the absence of a minimum wage we could finally have a real labour market in which people are paid an appropriate price for their worth, rather than everyone being put on minimum wage straight out of school and being stuck there for fifteen years. Innovation would be a necessity for recruitment, profit share agreements and performance related pay are but two ways that employers could attract staff. But also consider the allure of being present at the start of a new venture and helping to shape its future. And remember the more successful these employees make the company the sooner these firms will have to increase their workforce, they would therefore be earning for themselves the more generous employment rights of larger companies.

There is obviously the possibility of exploitation but these issues can be mitigated by the policy’s implementation. To soften the predictable cries of ‘Modern Slavery’ from the left anyone refusing a job with a micro-business could not be liable for benefits sanctions. But also if we were to think openly about deregulation what about loosening the legislation on cash-in-hand payment for casual and part time labour? Does anyone really have a problem with someone on the dole doing Friday night in your local chippy? Legalised but ‘Undeclared’ work could fill the void in many household budgets that further welfare reforms may create and I for one would much rather people supplemented their dole with work rather than trawling through the Citizens’ Advice leaflets to see if they can claim even more, especially when being in some form of work in the first place raises the chance that they will achieve full time employment. This could be a real, organic ‘Welfare-to-Work’ programme.

It is the self-employed who dragged this country out of recession, the courageous entrepreneurs who often sacrifice much at great personal risk to strike out on their own. Their contribution to our country, in economic, social and cultural terms, is unfathomable. They are the backbone of our nation – the drive, the vision, the confidence, the creativity, the accomplishment to which we all aspire. They deserve every support possible and they have every right to expect it from the Conservative party.

Whatever the result of the leadership election Andrea Leadsom has displayed the radical vision that is needed to take advantage of our new-found freedoms and to give employers and employees, consumers and producers, the dynamic, flexible marketplace that the country craves. Regardless of the outcome of the leadership contest her voice should be heard in the future.

Martin was a lifelong Socialist who saw the error of his ways, making a sharp right turn. Follow him on Twitter: @righturn79

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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty