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The Spotlight Debate

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Hello and welcome to this special programme as we examine the state


of the region's economy. Thousands of public sector job losses, pay


freezes and the rising cost of fuel have all taken their toll on


families across the south-west in the last year. In the week of the


Budget and with the government's measures to deal with the UK's debt


being felt across the region, tonight we'll assess what impact


they're having on households and businesses here, with the help of


business leaders, tafpbged with moving the economy forward, job


seekers desperate for work, experts who will assess the health of the


economy and MPs, we'll aim to find out how well placed the South West


is to deal with the ongoing austerity measures and look at


where potential growth comes from. If you're looking for a job, what


are your prospects of finding work? Do we have the skills in the South


West that employers are looking for? Youth unemployment is at its


highest level since current records began, what does the South West


have to offer its young people? One award-winning student says not


enough. My name is Sam Coumbe, I'm a


student at Plymouth University. The award I won was because I started


running the Farmers' Market. It's become a real success. My aim after


I graduate is to enter the graduate job market in a position of either


retail management or sales and marketing, though I have been


rejected by several firms so far. I've had two interviews, with two


different firms. But it is daunting when you receive e-mails from


companies saying that they've had 13,000 applicants for less than 200


positions. It does really put doubt in your mind. Through my placement


search it became apparent there's little in this part of the country.


If I want to get into a graduate position, I am going to have to


move away to another part of the country or another part of the


worldment The Government have got their policies in place in terms of


the educational side of things. I feel they could be doing more when


it comes to students leaving university. It's all well and good


with a masters degree or PhD, but if you don't know what to do with


it when you leave, it's really just a piece of paper.


Chris Dawson what should someone like Sam do to single themselves


out in the jobs market? They need to go direct to the employer, offer


their services, for instance, we're forming an academy now which I'm


going to lobby the Government and Sir Philip Green is doing the same


thing. We will train those people, highly train them, so all our


enterprises we hit the ground running at 500mph. If they get into


our academy, I think it's better than any university. That's a


generalisation of a degree. You're being trained right to go at the


coal face. Believe it or not, we struggle to get trained managers.


We pay the right rate, not over or under. I think the academy is the


way forward. The Government need to get their hand in the pocket and


help us with it. The academy is self-centred because we want these


guys coming directly to us. Brent Ben if we're to drive the economy


forward it's essential to keep people like Sam in the South West.


How do we do that? I start by saying it's very good news that we


have people like Sam with the skills set in the South West. It's


good news that you want to remain in the south-west. You will look at


regions where they don't have the education or the attractions to


retain people. We need to sell the story of the South West to business


leaders and it's getting out there. We have a job seeker here Nichola


Wren, give us your experience of looking for a job. It's really


difficult. There are so many applicants for each job. You'll


apply for, I'm a PA, and I'll apply for a job that 300 people have gone


for. I've applied for probably about 400 or 500 jobs in the last


two years. I've had three interviews. Three? Yeah. You have


youngsters who you're worried about as well? I have teenagers. I have a


son who's 226789 he's just gone into an apprenticeship. My daughter


is 17. She's at college at the moment. She's hoping to study


criminal psychology. I'm just concerned that she's narrowing her


field too much and that she should look at doing something that's a


bit more useful. What are you thinking about in terms of her


prospects? I don't think they're good at the moment. I just, I


suppose I'm just at the end of my tether at minute. I'm feeling that


it's like banging your head against a brick wall. Anne Carlisle, you


wanted to say something? Yes I head up University college Falmouth,


which is creative industries and if there's one skill we are imbueing


in students and that's true of all the further education in the South


West is entrepreneurial skills. Most of the sectors which are


rapidly growing were not conceived of five years ago. The ability to


set up a business and have graduate skills and join businesses already


in existence is critical. We've got some fantastic statistics in the


South West which are five times more likely graduates are more


likely to set up their own businesses than in other parts of


the UK. So it's not all doom and gloom. It's really about building


on what is a truly entrepreneurial spirit and making sure we teach our


students and graduates the skills to be able to go out and be


innovators. How concerned are you about losing skills from the region,


because there aren't the jobs here for people like Sam? We have to


build the skills in the first place. When we've got them it's important


to unlock the doors into employment. We've been working hard in Cornwall


for some time. We have a scheme where we've funded graduates into


firms for the first year and in that 12 months they grow the


business and 90% of graduates have stayed on in that job because the


firm is grown from it. We're looking to expand on that hugely


now. We're also bringing together Cornish bursary to support up to


600 Cornish students in graduate positions and guaranteeing them


another year in employment, getting them in there, grow the businesses.


It's good for the economy and the employee. Hugo Swire, clearly the


Government's policies on employment aren't working at the moment.


Unemployment is up again. We have youth unemployment at record levels.


When is this oil tanker going to start turning? Youth unemployment


rose year on year in the last Government at a time of record


growth in the economy. It's nothing new. If you come oust further


education owing a lot of money, already, then you can't get a job


it's very debilitating. The Government is doing a lot with the


youth contract, which will help a lot of people. What's going to help


people is growth in the economy, stability in the economy and


confidence in the economy. I think in the South West we're incredibly


well placed with renewable energies. We should become the green


peninsula around the world. Tourism, we have a lot going for us. Too


often we sell ourselves short. It's going to take time. When it comes


right, it will come right quite quickly. Alison Seabeck where would


you like to see support targeted, particularly for young people?


We've seen 183% increase in youth unemployment across the South West.


We need very clearly to have real jobs with real wages with real


chances at the end of it. This Government isn't delivering that.


The youth contract is an interesting proposal, but it won't


deliver what we need. You're talking about the guaranteed job


for six months for young people. Absolutely, paid for out of a


banker's bonus. The point is that you have the university, who


Plymouth University, fantastic business sector within it, trying


to encourage young people to do it. What the vice Chancellor has come


out publicically and said is that they are expected a 10% drop off in


young people who are not from wealthy families going in, young


people with real entrepreneurial skills potentially, which so far


have been growing. Government have got to look at this. We grow our


young people in the South West. The reason the peninsula dental school


came here is because we needed dentists here and we knew if we


taught them here, they would stay here. We have to work really hard


on that. I want to come back to Sam who featured in the film. What do


you think of what you have heard? With the fees increasing, it's


going to attract a certain calibre of student. It's going to be �9,000


a year to attend university. Post graduate courses will be more as


well. Academies are the way forward, integrating work experience. That's


absolutely essential. I mean, it's extremely difficult to get a degree


these days doesn't count as much as it did 20 years ago. You need to


have the relevant work experience. That proves you can do it at the


ground level and move through. I think the philosophy is changing


with regards to degrees and work experience. More comments from the


audience in a moment. The Government's mantra throughout the


public sector cuts sthat private sector would pick up the slack. The


figures for the greater South West for the last year suggest that's


not happening. 37,000 public sector jobs were cut, just 6,000 private


sector jobs have been created. Here's one public sector worker


with the driver and vehicle licensing agency, who fears she's


about to lose her job. I'm Louise Munn and I work for the


DVLA. The Government are proposing to close the 39 regional offices of


the DVLA. That will result in the loss of about 1200 jobs. It's


insult,, did he grading. We work so hard to provide a public service


where we k. We are a department that generates income for the


Government through number plate transfers etc. I am personally fed


up of the Government blaming the previous administration. It's not a


blame game. We're here. We've got to deal with, it as we keep getting


told, but why hit the public services? It is getting to the


stage already where we're thinking, can we afford to fill the tank with


petrol? We can afford �10 here and then we can only afford �20 worth


of shopping or whatever. I've already faced redundancy through


the MOD in Northern Ireland once. I relocated my family back home to


Cornwall as a result to stay employed. My fear is that I'm not


going to be able to continue supporting my family as I want to.


What are the prospects of the private sector picking up the slack


from the public sector cuts? problem with these things is always


timing. Unfortunately the private sector may fill that gap over time,


but it won't happen this year and probably not next year. I have


confidence in the economy and entrepreneurial spirit, we've heard


about, it will happen in time. You have to back the youth that is


coming up behind us. But in the next year, the next couple of years,


it is not going to happen. Demand is too weak. Are we replacing like


for like. Some of the statistics suggest we are losing well paid


public sector jobs, but they're being replaced by lower paid part-


time private sector jobs. That's always the way in the down part of


the downturn. We're in a period where we're losing jobs and the


ones being created are not the high value, high productivity jobs that


you need for the long-term. We have to make that adjustment through the


cycle. At the moment it's not happening. I'm sure it will happen


in the future. But we probably need measures now to help the economy


grow better. We're not getting the productist or employment growth we


need. We heard Louise's story at the DVLA, and Catherine Craig


possibly staff face a change to pay because of this hint now that


regional pay might be introduced. What do you think that would do to


workers like Louise? Well, first of all, regional pay is not something


new. It's been mooted right back at the beginning of the noughties.


you think it would drive down public sector wages in this part of


the world? Yes, of course it would. We know there's a pay freeze in


place. We know that pension contributions are going up. If we


find that pay is down and constrained in this respect, I


think there will be a mass migration. The figures suggested in


this debate in the run up to the Budget would suggest that the


private sector cannot keep wais with some of the growth in public


sector wages. The gap is something like 8% on average. Yes and that


figure is a little bit fluid at the moment, because we know there's a


pay freeze in place and job cuts and everything else. But of course,


prior to that, prior to the recession, that gap wasn't so big.


These differentials move a lot. In a boom time the private sector


moves ahead. In a downturn the public sector moves ahead. You have


to lock over a long period of time and see what the differentials are.


If the Government is true to its theme, wanting growth, growth is


about productivity and employment. The things that drive productivity


are high value jobs, high skills which are well paid.


comfortable are you with the idea of regional pay? I don't want to


see regional pay pushing down the wages. I don't want to see that.


I'm very uncomfortable with it. I want to see private sector pay


increasing so that people can continue to share in a greater


prosperity rather than penalising those who happen to work in the


public sector. We have to remember that the last Government basically


crashed our economy. In the last year in office, one of every �4


they were spending was borrowed money. I can hear tuting, because


we're living in the present. Absolutely. But the coalition


Government is dealing with the mess that was left behind. Tackling the


private finances, driving down the deficit has to be the priority.


Let's talk about the public sector pay premium in the South West about


7.5% according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The public sector


pay freeze proposed that will bring back the pay premium close to


levels of 2008 just before the final crisis. But we're kidding


ourselves if we think we're going to get ourselves out of the


financial crisis by paying more for the public sect or. We had a system


where we're borrowing money at the moment to pay for the public sector


we have. We spent too much money at the time, we didn't fix the roof


when the sun was shining. Now we've paid for that. What we need to do


is free up private enterprise. It is the private sector which will


lead the recovery. At the moment too many small businesses, the


lifeblood of the economy, they even struggle to take on an extra worker.


Taking on one extra member of staff can double the amount of paper work.


The real debate here and remember where the growth will come from.


I'm glad the TPA here, I'd-a membership form, I don't know how


you become ally of the TPA. TaxPayers' Alliance. It's almost


like the mantra, blame Labour. I'm wondering we're two years into this


coalition Government now, when do we get the coalition standing up


and being counted? The criticism is often levelled at Labour that you


didn't fix the roof when the sun was shining. How did we get where


we are now? In my authority at the moment the leader of the council


won an award two years ago for the most achieving council. One of the


criteria was having built seven new schools with Government money from


the Labour Government. We don't hear her blaming Labour for her


awards. But there wasn't the public money to do this. We hear this like


a mantra. Let's go back to regional pay. What Chris Dawson said is


revealing. Good businesses like his are not interested in a race to the


bottom on wages. They're not interested in having, they don't


believe that public sector wages being cut is the way to equalise.


What I'm saying at the moment is if we have regional pay for the South


West, Plymouth can kiss goodbye, for example, to John Lewis ever


coming here. I want to come back to Robertment


People will see politicians quablg about whose fault it is the economy


is broken. We need to get the economy growing. That has to


involve tax cuts. That's the point I was going to make. Nigel has


rightly said that the private sector growth will take a little


time to come along. What we should be talking about now is the


stimulus to the economy to make that private sector growth come


along. I'm quite certain if we get the stimulus, the private sector


has the oblt to take the slack from the public. That's what we should


be talking about. Nobody wants to see redundancies particularly when


it's dedicated public servants doing a great job. I want to give


credit to the public sector employees who know what the big


picture is. Cornwall we had an agreement with the unions taking a


volume un tri3% cut in pay and other conditions. Everybody


realises, including in the public sector, that an expensive public


sector is not good for the economy. It's unsustainable, particularly


when it relies on unsustainable borrowing. You know full well how


important it is that your staff at Cornwall Council are reasonably


well paid so they can spend in the Cornish economy. If there's this


race to the bottom as Tudor Evans pointed out, what impact could that


have on spending power from your employees and other public sector


workers? It's a key factor. These people are the customers as well.


We're not talking about a race to the bottom. It's about finding a


reasonable level. I think the key point here is there's a big world


out there. Throughout Europe there are lots of well paid jobs being


created in renewable energy, one of the high growth sectors. The south-


west is very well placed to take advantage of that. We have a


fantastic set of universities. We have a dedicated renewable energy


faculty at Exeter University in Cornwall and now the South West


marine energy park. We should be looking at solutions. We will look


at this later, the prospects of renewable energy being part of the


drive of growth in the South West. Back to Hugo Swire. This emerged


over the weekend, the idea of regional pay featuring heavily in


the budget this coming week, what do you make of the idea? I think in


principle it's a good idea. I think where you have very high cost areas


to live in, particularly London and the south-east, you have cheaper


places around the country and it makes sense to me to vary rates.


The private sector do that in a number of ways. Why can't the


public sector do it as well? cost of living is high down here,


but we may end up with lower wages. That would no doubt be factored


into whatever regional pay solution comes about. The fact is just going


back to your earlier point, you can't have it both ways. You can't


say that the country has got to stay on this fiscal course in terms


of preserving economic cred yint and every time people say why are


we on it, for instance we're paying in excess of �120 million a day for


debt, everyone groans and let's live in the real world and forget


that Labour got us into the mess. That's the real world we're in.


want to come back to Louise, whose film we saw. You've had a pay


freeze I think for a while now. pay freeze for three years.


what about the prospects of regional pay? If you kept your job,


let's face it first of all, your job is at risk, if you kept it,


regal pay might be another prospect to confront. The gentleman needs to


remember that yes, the higher cost of living in London is higher, but


so is pay. In Cornwall for example, we have water rates, one of the


highest in the countries, council tax etc. The cost of inflation has


gone up, petrol has gone up. That's national. If the pay is frozen or


reduced, I'm already worse off. Under your proposal I'm going to be


unemployed trying to support my husband and child, pay rent,


council tax, water rates, my living cost, try and pay off my debt that


I already have due to your Government. We've frozen council


tax for two years. Inflation and petrol charges are the same


wherever you live in the country. You could reduce duty on petrol.


have. We have frozen the increase in petrol duty. Let's see what


happens in the Budget. We must move on. If the businesses are expected


to be driving the economy forward with growth, what help are they


getting to expand and take on more staff? Here's the view of one South


West businessman. I'm a landlord at the White Hart


Hotel in Holsworthy. The event business is somewhere I feel that


can expand. In the last three years we've doubled business year on year.


One of the issues is to get into events you have to tender, pay


money up front. You would like to go to the bank and say "Can I have


an overdraft" They say no. Six years ago, it wasn't a problem.


They couldn't throw enough money at me. Even when I had a mortgage and


a business loan, they said do you want some more? Now, I don't


believe I could get a penny out of my bank. I have tried 14 different


banks. One of the reasons they don't like to lend money, is they


say we're in a sector that they don't want to lend to. The banking


system has changed because of their failures. Sorting the country out


is very important. If we keep squeezing small business, then


without small businesses, what do we have? We are being crucified


because of their failures. Richard Davis, why are you as


bankers so reluctant to lend to someone like John? I can only speak


for Lloyds and say that actually we're not. That's a sector we are


growing in. It's interesting, it's a sector that's gone through a lot


of difficult times, but like so many different secondors, there are


winners in each sector and the answer is to pick them. On the


wider point, clearly there is a lack of confidence amongst a lot of


businesses at the moment. There's a big requirement amongst banks to


help restore that confidence. You're still not quite delivering.


Under Project Merlin you missed the most recent targets for lending to


small businesses. Lloyds hit our targets. If you take one particular


case, the economy in the South West today, one of the things we


undershoot on is businesses that export. We don't have enough that


export. One of the things I care passionately about, there's a range


of things available to businesss to support exporting, funding


mechanisms. Do I think they're widely known about? No I don't. My


fear is there could be businesses who perhaps get a chance to sell to


Germany, whatever, but are put off because they think it will be


difficult. Now you've had difficulty trying to get lending


from banks as well. It's a nightmare. My experience is that


the entire banking industry has closed to what is described as buck


and spade style hotels. There are two hotels adjoining my three


hotels that are both closed down, boarded up, almost 50 fulltime jobs


lost, because the entire banking industry will not give a mortgage


to a hotel. The valuations, what this has resulted in, is one of my


hotels I paid �1.2 million for ten years ago. Five years ago it was


valued at �2.1 million. Lloyds have just come back in and revalued it,


54-bed rooms, between �400,000 and �700,000. The reason the two hotels


adjoining my hotels are empty and semi-derelict is because nobody can


borrow a penny as a mortgage to buy a hotel in this part of the country.


These are key industries for the south-west, the pub industry, hotel


industry. Why are banks so reluctant to lend to them? Maybe it


will help if I tell you on Friday we helped a Cornish business buy a


prestigious hotel in Cornwall which they have great plans for actually.


In a few years they will grow. do people like John and Mark need


to do to get the lending freed up from the banks. You need to know


your market, I've seen the television programme with Mark on


it and he knows his market. You need to know the market, that


applies to hoteliers and publicans. You need to provide what customers


want. The point is because the banks have closed down the lending,


what that's done to people in the hotel sector, not just Torquay, a


lot of areas in the South West, it has driven the values down by 60%.


Anybody with a 35% or 40% mortgage five years ago is now in negative


equity, medium sized hotels, if you have a ten or 12 bedroom guest


house and you're struggling a bit, previously you could have gone and


got a bit of an overdraft to help up through to the next summer. Now


the bank is more than likely definitely going to say no to any


form of lending, borrowing, overdraft, and unbeknown to you


you're in negative equity. So you can't think oh, well it's not great,


I'll sell up and move on. You have to wait until the bank come and put


the shutters up. John, we saw in the film a moment ago, you're


trying to expand your business, the irony of all this, you realise you


have to diversify, but the banks won't you -- give you the money.


had the smoking ban, we hit the recession. 37 pubs were closing a


week. In the film you said you tried 14 banks, does that include


Lloyds? It does. One of the issues about the mortgages, they will only


value my business on a closed premises, they will not give me a


mortgage based on my business and my property value as it is.


Everything is a close boarded business because we're high risk.


Why is that? I would say when you look at that business, I mean, you


may value it in many ways. I think picking up on Mark's point, I don't


think the industry is to blame for those. Values are what they are. We


reflect the economy. No, you are. If what had happened to the hotel


market and borrowing happened to residential mortgages, because


unless, all right you might lend �10 million to a boutique style


hotel in London or specific things, but the road my hotels are in, I


have a lot of hotels closed up. It's because the tap has been


turned off. If that happened with residential mortgages people would


be rioting in the streets if the value of all their homes dropped by


65%. As someone who's trying to help the region's business


community move forward, what do you make of the bank's position at the


moment? Well, listening to Richard and not going into a bank -- banker


bashing session, there is no doubt from the 63,000 VAT registered


businesss in our area that they have a major problem in access to


finance. That spreads right across the board. If we could free up


lending to some of our brilliant small and micro businesses it would


be great. But it is just not happening at the moment. If we look


at some of the other systems near Europe, German model would be a


good example, where there is much more localised banking, much more


dedicated relationships with small businesses, greater commitment,


then we might get somewhere. damaging do you think this is to


the region's economy that businesses are not getting the


lending they need? It's enormously damaging. The amount of growth


potential in small businesses who want to employ, invest and get on,


but they haven't got that liquidity to make it happen. Everyone along


the front row wants to say something. Growth comes from


investment and export growth. That requires credit. If the credit


system isn't running, then the oil in the economy is not working and


the engine stops. Innovation also requires money and risk taking.


That is a truth. The other truth is every downturn I've experienced,


the banks have done what they're doing at the moment. The hotel


industry is one of those that they always pick on. They are seen as a


higher risk. Chris Dawson, if you can't get lending from the bank,


how do you expand? We haven't got any lending at all. How do you do


it? Make money. We're very cash rich. We have been for a long time.


We generate a few quid for sure. I have a question before you go into


that. Richard, do you lend to the system, the person or the trade? If


I come along for a loan what would you say? Your starting point, if


you look at what is a successful business, it's the person running


it. Why? Because they need to know their market, how they're running


their business etc. You don't consider that any more. You used to.


We get fed into a computer and if it ticks all the boxes well you


might, but chances are you don't. They don't talk to the real person?


No. Decisions are made a long way from here. In terms of credit, if


you can't get it from the banks what do you do? It's a real


challenge as we come out and try to expand the private sector as a


driver for jobs is where is that growth capital going to come from?


My view is that is one area, I'm a great believer the Government duds


best for business when it lets business crack on with it. We have


a failure in the system. What the Government should do is look to


start disintermediating the provision of capital for business.


Where are the signs of growth in the south-west? The BBC


commissioned skpeerion to assess the health of businesses across


England. It revealed that Exeter has the highest proportion of high


growth businesses. Weymouth and Portland, the biggest percentage in


business startups and Torbay perhaps surprisingly, the highest


exporting potential in our region. One businessman from Torbay is with


us now. Graham, what did you make of that statistics that there's a


great exporting potential in Torbay? I didn't fully understand


it. I don't associate the Torbay I see as somewhere that's ready to


boom as an exporting town. You're an exporting business. We are.


We've been in Torbay for 70 years. We didn't move to Torbay because


the opportunity is there. Having said that, I think if you look at


Torbay as a town and I see something, a town going the wrong


direction. It's getting very tired. It's lacking investment in the town


centre. We've talked about the hotels in the area. We're running a


successful exporting business despite the area. I don't collate


that report with the Torbay that I see. That's interesting. What one


thing would encourage businesses to come to Torbay in your mind, what


needs to be done? In my mind, if you have a successful, if you want


to attract people to the town and you want to attract businesses to


an area and make it grow, it starts from the centre. We have one of the


greatest opportunities, it's a beautiful town. That's a key asset.


We're seeing that being eroded, over years of lack of investment in


the town centre. We're seeing... It's a beautiful town but is it


enough to encourage a business to relocate there? It's part of the


formula. We're competing. I mean a town is competing with other towns.


Tim Jones from the Local Enterprise Partnership, that's one of your


areas to drive the economy to a point where businesses see it as an


attractive opportunity, was going wrong in Torbay then? 40 years of


fiddling around waiting to put a decent road network in is one of


the biggest problems. It was abandoned by the public investment


in transport. Fortunately that decision has finally been made and


Torbay has the chance to turn it around. Sthat key? I don't think so.


The Torbay has basically sat on its hands wait for -- waiting for the


road thinking it will end its problems. You have a centre where


shops are closing on a week live basis. The council drive retail out


of the town centre by charging rates beyond what businesses can


afford. Thinking that putting in a road will change the economy.


other tangible things are you looking at to stimulate growth in


the area? Transport is high on the list. Access to finance is high on


the list. At a local level, Broadband, which is a massive


driver of productivity is a key component. If we could drive that


into small businesses that would immediately translate no a better


economy. You were previously with the RDA, which has effectively been


replaced by the local enterprise partnerships. How well place ready


they to deliver the stimulus? are very different animals from the


RDA. They had a supply line of projects it was hoping to do. The


LEPs were created but obviously there is a period where the new


businesses, if that's what they are, need to get going. Have they got


the same resources, access to finances behind them that the RDA


had? The question isn't necessarily... Hang on. Let Nigel


answer? Have they got the funding? They haven't got the funding in the


right place for investment today. Because it's relying on the private


sector again. When the private sector is healthy and wants to


invest, I'm sure the money will come through. There are funds


available, the regional growth fund. We have heard this week that


Cornwall is getting more money after 2013 from the European system.


There are funds available. But it's in a different place than it was


when the RDA was in place. I find it interesting, my career was with


a multinational, the conversation when you talk about the economy


down here is where is the money to help. What we should be talking


about is where are the opportunities. There are hundreds...


So it's a different animal to the RDA. You're here to facilitate.


find the opportunities, help them realise those. As Nigel said, the


first thing is and this is why I don't necessarily agree with Tim


wholly in the sense that the road and rail network are important, if


your horizon is global or international, which is where


Cornwall and the South West have to see the future and superBroadband


makes that future very accessible as to the sort of people that Ann


is turning out from Falmouth, if we have a global perspective and we


really find the opportunity and work out the business case, there


is every reason why the South West could perform better than any other


region. Dr Antoinette Young an interesting statistic about the


number of business startups in the area. Are you seeing that from the


network of business people you talk to, are more people starting up


their new businesses? I'm heavily involved with an organisation


called Women in Business Networking. We had a meeting just before


Christmas. This is over the South West. They asked, who expects their


business to grow next year and every hand went up. We're talking


about 80 women who are Seoul traders or they're decision makers


in whatever organisation they work. I'm very optimistic about the


economy. If you paraphrase warren Buffet, he said the problem is fear.


People are afraid to spend and invest. If everybody holds steady,


keeps patient, it will come back. You can't squash entrepreneurs.


am extremely optimistic. Torbay is the most fantastic place to grow


one of the biggest markets in the world, which is provision for an


ageing population, health and well being. In the South West we have


digital, environmental sustainability, we have all sorts


of sectors which you can follow them all the way from the South


West to enormous global markets. That's critical to growth not


responding to microbusinesses, it's saying can we cluster, can we


configure ourselves and play on very big fields and do it the way


other economies do. We're well positioned to do it. The bulgt is -


- Budget is this week. What do you want it to deliver to stimulate


growth? I want to take the lowest pay out of paying income tax. The


quicker we do that, the more we will deliver pound coins in the


back pockets of people. Cutting VAT. That would be the quick fix. What


one thing from the Budget? Just to maintain our international fiscal


credibility, which will benefit every business up and down the


country. We must leave it there. Plenty of concerns and questions


about the region's economy have been raised during the course of


this debate. We may get a clearer idea about some of the answers


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