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The Points West Debate

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Hello and welcome to the Bristol Cathedral Choir School. Tonight


we're having a class on economics. Can the west country climb out of


the doldrums and back to prosperity. Welcome to Our Economy - The Points


Thank you - this is the new performance centre here at Bristol


Cathedral Choir School - which has recently switched from private to


the state sector. There's been a lot of investment here - so if you


are wondering where your taxes go - it's in places like this


Tonight - in our classroom -We have gathered business leaders,


entrepreneurs, government representatives, apprentices, those


who are in work and those who can't find employment. We are going to


talk about the economy and advise the chancellor on what he should do


in his budget on Wednesday. Claire Perry is here - she's the MP for


Devizes - and she used to work for George Osborne - so she knows how


he thinks. We also have the Labour leader in the Lords Jan Royall -


who's from the Forest of Dean. And for the Lib Dems - Stephen Williams


- an MP who's thinking about running for Mayor in Bristol.


Come Wednesday's budget, the squeeze on the public sector is one


thing that's unlikely to change. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are


being lost - but the coalition says "dont worry" - the private sector


will pick up the slack. Well Anita Bradfield left Somerset County


Council which is t shedding fifteen hundred staff. Here is her story.


Crewkerne is a small market town. Somerset County Council are cutting


1,500 jobs. That is going to affect the local economy. People's pockets


are empty, they are not going to local shops and businesses, there


is no money to spend. It has affected everyone. Salaries, petrol


prices, energy prices, it has affected us. I decided I would set


up as a dance teacher, I opened up a local dance score for children


and adults in this town. There is no help. The government is saying


that there is help, that the private sector will pick it up, I


can't find that kind of help anywhere. There isn't any. I


understand, it's tough out there. There are no handouts, there is no


help from the government for this type of enterprise.


So - Is the government right to be cutting services and jobs in the


public sector - and can private businesses employ all those who've


been given the boot? What sort of changes have happened


in your life? It has been quite a big change. I decided to look after


myself, set up on my own, which was very difficult at the moment.


People are not investing in the local town. People are saying to me,


I can take one type of class you are offering, but not another. They


just don't have the money in their pockets at the moment. I have


parents, both working, he can't afford what I'm offering. I'm


having to cut my prices. It's tough. There's no pension, no holiday pay.


I am reliant on myself. Euro Liberal Democrat, a successful


businessman. What sort of effect is the economic situation having on


the high street? I think we have to weigh up the pros and cons. There


is opportunity available to small businesses. I have been in business


for 20 years, it has been difficult, but at the same time, there is


opportunity, and if you are a businessman, you are not able to


think about a value judgment, and how to create wealth. Let's go to


it Wendy, you working on are the most deprived areas of the West


Country. What is it like out there on the streets? People are getting


poorer. There are loan sharks, benefits been cut, people are being


squeezed. What would you like the Chancellor to do one Wednesday?


a lot more generous than he is going to be. He hasn't got the


money? It seems to be going on a lot other things. Let's get a


reaction from Claire Perry. You see the chance on a regular basis, is


the private sector picking up the pieces? The private sector has


created half a million jobs since the election. The pace is


increasing. Vacancies have jumped 40% month-on-month. I'm fascinated


by Anita's story. If women started businesses in this country at the


same rate as in the United States, we would have another �42 million


in the economy. -- �42 billion. We need to find out why they aren't.


There is a huge gap between public cuts and private sector jobs?


know councils are trying to get their budgets in order. What I want


to say to business people, come on, we have British business is sitting


on some of the highest levels of cash. We know interest rates are


going to stay low, currency is going to stay stable, and they are


saying they are not sure. I want to say to them, come on, we can do it.


We are the 7th richest country in the world, we have a fantastic


heritage. Anyone fancy doing that? I am from the Federation of Small


businesses. I would like to employ people. There are to be the


barriers. The government is not helping, there is a tax on jobs, it


is called National Insurance. It is crazy to do that. People are bored


stiff of hearing business is getting rid of the red tape, we


would employ more people. That is a good point about National Insurance.


There is a National Insurance holiday running right now. That is


a business is outside the South of England. Lots of businesses are


taking advantage of it. We have to make it easier. I'm taking on an


apprentice. Jan Royall, from Labour's point of


view, does the Chancellor had their -- have room for manoeuvre? Yes he


does. We etc. Some of the tax got back from banks and large pinnaces.


He has to offer greater tax relief. We need to restore some tax credits.


Poorer people are getting poorer. Who believes that cuts have to be


made? Who is now in the private sector, but now works in the --


they use the word in the public sector? I'm a director of a social


enterprise in Bristol. What I did see, when I was at a council, was a


huge wastage. There were lots of middle-managers that didn't really


need to be there. You have to be in one position of five years to get


promoted. You when promoter on competence, it was length of


service. -- keyword promoted on competence. I can't talk about the


public sector in Bristol. I would say that in health education, the


sector was and bloated. We depend on doctors and nurses, and having a


substantial number of them. I am worried about the effect that cuts


will have. I'm worried about what will happen in our schools.


worry Swindon councillor, conservative, when you move into


politics, did you find that the sector had a bit of fat that it


should cut? The public sector can make savings. We are cutting money


from senior management costs. These changes have been taking place, but


more can be done. We need to offer better service, for less money. We


need to stop closing our libraries. In Swindon, we are extending hours,


while cutting motor costs. Why are people feeling the pinch on the


front line? If they can be done without affecting frontline


services? Services can be changed. He can deliver them in a different


way. That is what councils are focusing on, the outcomes for the


public sector, and how we treat residents. Peaches Golding, you


have your hand up? I used to work for Bristol City Council, many


years ago, and it was absolutely fantastic. The gentleman behind be


made a point, what is the public sector for? It is to make sure that


it delivers a good service, but also to focus on areas where there


has been market failure. That can be education, the Environment, and


getting the infrastructure sorted out. That is what we want our money


to be spent. -- to be spent on. have public sector workers coming


here and saying what can they do? Yes, lots of people are being made


unemployed from the public sector. People have been taking early


retirement, and they are looking for work. We hope that there would


be a lot more private businesses that we could put them into. We're


not seeing that just yet. If people are frightened to open up. We need


to support businesses. You're a builder, construction professional.


New line a lot on public sector They are disappearing. We got our


fingers burned as a business with the whole debacle of the Learning


and Skills Council. We have lost millions of pounds of public money


because that was so badly and poorly managed. That is the sort of


area of waste were we just don't see because it has wasted in poor


management with too many middle managers and money is wasted.


Government cuts back on public spending, you lose work and that


has a knock-on effect? Indeed. We're not seeing that picked up by


the private sector because there seems to be a blockage in


developers getting funding for projects. The banks are paying out


lots of bonuses, but not lending money to people to start these


projects. Quickly some reaction, please. I hate this distinction


between the public and private sector. Every family has someone in


it who works in at the public sector and the private sector, I


think. The Labour Party has committed to the same level of


spending cuts, but they have not said where they would put them.


have not. Four Ed Balls has. He has not. Ultimately, we will face a


long-term big squeeze on public spending and we have to grow our


way out of it. We are where we are and we have to get jobs growing.


That is what is so important. talk more about jobs. How do you


fancy welding for a living? The Government wants more people into


manufacturing. But as it appeal to you? Are there enough


opportunities? Let's hear from Rosemary Robinson who runs Arc


Energy in Gloucestershire. This will end up in Brazil, maybe North


Africa. It is difficult to get hold of skilled people. In the past, 10


years ago, if we wanted as skilled a welder, we would not have to


advertise, Op someone we know someone who had the skills. If we


advertise nowadays, we would be lucky to get anyone with the right


skills. Some of our welders are from Poland. We have people from


the Czech Republic. They hear that there is a skills shortage here and


they apply. If they are the best person for the job, they will get


it. We get promises of apprenticeships. I go to the


college and I ask them about apprentices for welding. There was


-- there is nobody within a reasonable commuting distance who


can provide that. We need to make manufacturing and engineering


interesting for people. Those of us who work in Engineering think it is


wonderful. We love coming m and smelling the metal in the morning.


It is exciting for us. -- coming in. There is a lady who loves her work.


I hardly recognise you without your safety goggles! Why can't you find


new recruits? I think that years ago there were a lot of large


companies who were manufacturing and they were running


apprenticeship schemes. They are not around any more. There was not


a pool of skilled welders, for example. Those that were trained


are getting older. Just help me. How much does a welder earned?


Somewhere around �7 or �10 an hour. Perhaps you should pay more.


would love to pay more. If my engineering company was making more,


I would love to pay them. You can't get enough apprentices, but you


signed up to the idea, is that what you are seeing? I love the idea of


apprenticeships. -- saying. build your own company and used


apprenticeships. What was your experience? My experience is that


there are a handful who are great. There is another handful were


coming with no skills and you have to spend a large proportion of your


time managing. In small businesses, cash flow is crucial. If you're not


watching your books and concentrating -- and are


concentrating on these young people coming in who are unskilled, it


affects your bottom line. John Chudley is here from the National


Apprentices Scheme. Can you explain why they can't be enough workers?


Engineering is close to my heart. One of the things we're finding


with apprenticeships is that we have become a generation that


values A-levels up of all. I think there needs to be greater emphasis


on it showing attractive careers. I think young people need to see


case-studies and there should be ambassadors. She wants people and


you are supposed to train them. would say that through the


apprenticeships website we advertise more vacancies, so I


think this is a specific case. Let's hear from an apprentice.


have been doing my apprenticeship for the last 18 months. It is the


best thing I have done. It is a great way of getting first-hand


experience on the job. You get paid to learn. You were at college full-


time for the first year. -- You are. It gives you great theory and


practical base. You go into the industry and you learn how to work


in that industry. What age were you when you left school? I did my A-


levels, so I was 17 when I went into my apprenticeship. I was not


happy with my A-levels because it did not feel like there was enough


backing for Engineering. You would recommend manufacturing as at


career? Definitely. There are so many different diverse areas of


manufacturing that you can get into. It is attractive for many people.


You are earning money and you don't have student loans to pay back?


Exactly. I am earning and I have money coming in. There is somebody


here with some money! Who thinks that manufacturing is a career that


we should encourage our children to go into? Manufacturing is one of


the great British industries. We have been fantastic at


manufacturing things and exporting them worldwide. It pains me to you


that we're losing skills from a fantastic an important part of our


economy. What we know about the economy in Gloucestershire is that


manufacturing is at heart of it. 17% of employment. We need more


being done to help with recruitment. Engineering is a great career that


pays well. If you had a son or daughter, would you tell them not


to go to a factory and get a profession? Who would actually say


that? My daughter is doing her A- levels. The lasting added want her


to do is to go into a manufacturing jobs. I want her to become an


accountant or solicitor. Is he right? Come on, let's be honest.


Most parents would say that. think we have a problem of how we


sell manufacturing to young people. I thought you said spell it!


have a physics teachers and design and technology teachers at school


who did not work in that environment. Let's talk to a


student leader. Our students to pick a Premier League college about


what they do? Are the sniffy about manufacturing? There is no problem


with children being Smith -- with students being sniffy, but graduate


unemployment is higher now than it has been for 20 years. We want high


quality manufacturing, but we can only do that with a Government who


is willing to invest in its skills. This Government has cut maintenance


allowances which helped people in University. They have trebled


student loans. There was a famous U-turn on student fees. Is that the


right thing to be doing when we need the skills for the economy?


All students who wish to go to university can go to university


knowing it is free when you enter university. They will simply pay a


graduate contribution when they leave. For many people, that will


be at a more affordable rate than in the system that we inherited.


You are looking for work? What is your situation? I have been at


college for four years. I started off studying bricklaying. Then I


went on to work on my NVQ in its food hygiene. I am now it looking


to work in a gym instruction. you have tried hard to find work,


but not found anything? Exactly. I live in Swindon, which is terrible


for unemployment. You have also been out of work for a while.


have been unemployed for just over one year. I have had several


professional jobs over the years. My previous job was a management. I


have looked to come down the wrong of the ladder. I would except


taking a pay cut. My perception is that my age could be holding the


back. I am 52. I still have 15 years left potentially. That is a


significant period of time. Does its surprise both of you that


Eastern Europeans in particular coming to this country seem to be


able to find work? Again, this might be my perception, and I


cannot blame them for coming here and I would probably do the same in


their position to get a better life, but they look at the UK as a


wealthy and affluent countries. The salaries that we get compared to


their historic wages in their countries are high. Would you


accept a low salary? Anything that gave me money in my pocket, I would


accept that. What would your ideal job the? I would like to work on


exhibition stands and install them in conference centres across Europe.


If there is someone en that area watching tonight, they know where


to find you. Thank you. But now I need my notes.


If only I had a small suitcase in which to keep them. Here they are.


This little case will soon be made in the West Country and has become


an international hit. But should the Chancellor drop the tax on the


trunki? The inventor, Rob Law, tells us his story. These are the


world's first and only ride on suitcases for globe-trotting


children. The dragons do not like it six years ago, but the public


dead. I am out. I am out. We are now exporting to 60 countries. In


the first 12 months of our business, we turned over 6 million. There are


23 people in the business. The sales and marketing is done at head


office. We have two factories in China who manufacture these. We


have now made a decision to manufacture in the UK. This has


been my long-held passion. There is a huge investment for us to set up


the production in the UK. If we could set that off against tax, it


would speed up or whole process. We sure the Government going on and on


about UK production, yet I was flabbergasted to discover there


were no incentives are tax write- offs. Financially, we cannot make


all of our products in the UK. If there was more support, we could


employ more people and it would pay for itself as we are a successful


company. Well, the question of tax will be central to the Budget on


Wednesday. Should businesses get more tax breaks? Should the


priorities be elsewhere? What do those dragons are no! You are


making them in China. I have heard that the wage in China is �1 per


hour. The price is constantly increasing and the Government are


rightly so improving standards. can the West Country compete?


too long, businesses have just looked at a cost. Now we're at at


tipping point where it is about the cost of the product, the carbon


footprint, flexibility as a supplier to meet demand, innovating,


there are so many good things that I think it really is starting to


balance up. Yes, it is more expensive making things here than


in China and it probably will be that way for 20 years. But there


Tell us about your business? make high-technology business. We


are I manufacture -- we are in manufacturing industry, it is very


sad to see how difficult it is. We want people who can programme


robots. We want a high degree of training, and a high degree of


innovation. We export our pride that. It is a huge success, what


could the government do to help you further? Do you need a tax breaks?


The answer is, yes. I have to explain why. We are very successful,


and cash rich. We can't get engineers, we are training people


in the wrong things. Let's talk tax breaks. Why do need a tax break?


The very fact that we have a proven success for Formula, we want to


make it a bigger formula. We have to create wealth in this country.


This is a low risk way of doing it. Why could the government to? --


what could the government to do? Capital gains tax. Can we clarify


tax breaks for. We have the largest tax system in the world. What we


need is a low and stable tax environment. The first thing that


the Chancellor did is cut the lowest rate of corporate tax. They


-- there may be some further cuts they can make. We need a stable and


low system. Is that your experience? It would be great to


see a move on that. I spent two months researching, tried to get


some support, to bring our production back from China. I saw


David Cameron preaching on the television, I thought, there was


going to be some support, there wasn't any. We need people to pick


up the slack from the public sector, is -- it is about the job creation.


I want a tax break. Why should the government's priority be? Would


anyone not like a tax break? They have to be honest with ourselves as


businesses. If we have this financial plan that, and we have a


certain amount of business is doing reasonably well. I don't see the


logic. You have to be careful. of our businesses are not paying


taxes. We have incredibly high levels of tax avoidance in this


country. We have to clamp down on that. What about the 50 pence rate


of tax? Would you like to see it go? I have always thought it was a


bad incentive. While we have low growth, I would like to keep it. I


personally don't think it's the right time to do it. I would agree


with Claire. I don't think any tax rate should be set in stone. It


would be the wrong time to do it. It is said that the regime's to be


in cent devised by lower taxes, but the poor need to be in cent devised


by paying more taxes quite often. Or by having their tax credits


reduced. The Liberal Democrats are in favour of lower taxes. We would


like a tycoon tax. The tax break we would really like to see is raising


that threshold to �10,000, so that everyone can enter work. The


biggest barrier to someone taking a job is that makes between tax and


benefits. -- is that a mix. Used to be an adviser for the Bank of


England, what will the Chancellor be trying to balance between public


spending and what the public will accept? The Chancellor will look to


rebalance the economy. We need to the back on the fact that our


public deficit over the last 2-3 years will be more than 10% of that


and all are pert -- of our annual Albert. We have built up too much


debt. That rebalancing is to continue. The Chancellor want to


see the economy growing again. There is a need for incentives for


large and smaller businesses. wealthy top 1% pay something like


25% of all the taxes, can they be squeezed any more? As people said


earlier, they are supposed to pay a certain amount of tax, but the fact


is, they don't. There are too many loopholes. We have to close up


those tax loopholes. Various people have talked about the cuts, and I


do think we have been cutting too fast, as Clare herself said,


councils have chosen to front a load some of the cuts. That is


having an impact on jobs. We want to get rid of the deficit, we want


to do it more slowly. Let's focus on the top 1%, can they be burdened


more? I don't want to burden people. What you want to focus on is


creating wealth. In these to be spread out evenly. I think we are


missing the fundamental point. What we really need to rebalance, is our


goals is a -- is our goals in society. What are we valuing? Why


is it that nurses and teachers get paid very little, and bankers get


paid of Eilat? We are valuing the wrong things. We need to challenge


the notion of improving our economy. What is prosperity? It is the way


more than economic benefits. -- it is way more. We all agree that the


Sinn cent advise people to work -- we all agreed that we should raise


incentives for people to work. Let's have ABA final word with the


politicians -- let's have a final word with the politicians. We need


jobs for young people. If they're out to work for a long time, they


lose confidence. We are losing our future. What would be your


priority? It is making sure that the low-paid and the middle incomes


get basic dividend tax break. We want to get to a situation where


you can enter work, completely free of tax. Is that going to work?


have insisted it is in the coalition agreement. In the Budget


statement, I'm looking for the Chancellor to announce when we can


get to that position. Would you see the Chancellor before Wednesday?


will be in the house. I want an unequivocal signal that Britain is


open for business. This is the Best place to do business, and indeed


that certainty either dealing with the deficit, the strong signals


over dealing with tax, and cutting red tape and getting


apprenticeships going. What I personally would like to see is the


cut in fuel duty. And that's it. Our thanks to all of


you who have come to debate with us tonight. The conversation continues


on BBC local radio where there will be special programmes tomorrow. And


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