Friday, May 11, 2012

CWO Report: Forum 'Business Budget 2012'

24-Apr-2012: The CWO forum panel on the ‘Business Budget 2012’ took place in a committee room of the House of Commons on Tuesday 24th April.
The speakers for the evening were:
Andrew Tyrie    MP for Chichester and Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee.
Susan Hayes      Head of Business Banking, Barclays
Gillian Cardy      Managing Director of the Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) centre.

CWO Chairman, Katy Bourne welcomed our guests on behalf of CWO and outlined that the purpose of the ‘Business Budget 2012’ was to allow exploration of the impact of the recent budget announcements on small businesses.  Katy encouraged discussions around the role of women in business and in what ways the budget will have an impact on economic growth for all demographics.  

CWO Forum: Sophie Stratton, Gillian Hardy and Susan Hayes
Sue Hayes led the discussion by explaining her role as Head of Business Banking at Barclays and went on to discuss how and why banks are making a concerted effort, through their growth agenda to help small businesses.
Currently 50 % of start-up businesses fail within their first three years; Sue discussed the challenging conditions that a start-up company is likely to face based on her assessment of the core issues she sees arising daily within her client’s environment.  The three main reasons she identified for the failure of new businesses are: the economic climate and reduced demand, the competitive landscape and cash flow issues.
 Sue observed that there is a general feeling of uncertainty around the regulations in respect of setting up a new business which serve to deter people from venturing into this territory due to a lack of confidence and understanding of the basic logistics involved in setting up a new business.

Homing in on the budget, Sue thought that there had been modest changes but nothing which would make a substantial difference to promote entrepreneurial growth.  However, the reduction in the higher rate of personal income tax and the increase in personal allowance would mean that greater disposable income could potentially have the effect of stimulating consumer spending, albeit not aiding initial investment.
Sue went on to explain how banks can help to stimulate confidence via a number of fiscal initiatives and support services such as;

-The National Loan Guarantee Scheme  which creates lower interest rates for lending and gives a percentage of cash back to the applicant.
-Business support units and seminars proactively advising business on any issues they are experiencing and discussing ways to increase revenues for a new business.  E-commerce for example, if conducted internationally, gives a business a fourfold chance of being successful in the critical 36-month window.
-Networking forums to link customers and business together.

CWO Forum: Susan Hayes, Theodora Clarke, Margaret Bird, Pauline Lucas, Gillian  Cardy and Katy Bourne
The overall message was that banks do want to loan to businesses to aid the UK’s economic recovery.  Last year alone £4.7bn was invested by Barclays into small businesses and Barclays hit their Merlin targets.  Given the current economic situation today around 42% of people will have to rethink their retirement plans and 25% of people will have to work over the age of 65.  Barclays wants to encourage a stimulus for growth to give people greater flexibility over their retirement options.

Gillian Cardy spoke about her role as Managing Director of the IFA centre and how she perceived the budget would have an effect on the financial planning strategies of individuals and businesses alike.
Gillian sees the budget in its current form as having only nominal changes which directly affect the role of an IFA in giving client advice.  In her view, present regulations need simplification to stimulate economic growth as the increased complexity of rules around taxation are making it challenging for both employers and employees to understand their responsibilities and, as a consequence, more costs are being incurred by businesses.
Prohibitive costs make it more challenging for new business to flourish.  An example of these increasing costs for employers is the new National Employee Savings scheme which all business must start to contribute to.
 An example of change suggested by Gillian was in regards to rules around National Insurance; she suggested a revision of the current 13.8% which has to be paid even into retirement.
To summarise, Gillian brought the discussion to an employee level and discussed the current missed opportunities for road-mapping a real savings plan and taking advantage of tax free opportunities such as ISA’s and personal allowances.

Finally Andrew Tyrie discussed how he saw the budget from his perspectives as an Economist, an MP and as the Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee.
CWO Forum: Andrew Tyrie MP
 Andrew supported the defining strategy of the budget which is a deficit reduction programme to deal with the current economic conditions.  He believes in turn this will promote confidence from the markets.  The budget has been set by the Chancellor with little scope for manoeuvre as there are real fiscal targets to be met and the government is in the early stages of implementing a long term strategy to restore economic growth rates to 2.4%. Andrew is confident that this coalition budget will prevent a UK replication of crises seen in Greece and other Eurozone countries.
In line with his co-speakers, Andrew agreed that an overhaul of regulation in certain areas affecting business is overdue and that a simplification of employers’ legislation and a focus on making it easier for sole traders to create the jobs, are needed to boost the economy.
CWO Forum: Theodora Clarke
In agreement with Gillian Cardy, Andrew went on to say that the British taxation system is one of the most complicated taxation systems in the world.  There are issues around tax avoidance which could be addressed by less ambiguity on the subject and clearer tax models.  Tax cuts at the top end of the market are designed to retain wealth within the UK and avoid overseas relocation in line with Laffa principles.  In addition to this, improvements via the Loan Guarantee scheme will serve as a much needed catalyst for bank and consumer lending and UK entrepreneurialism.

Questions and comments from the floor examined issues such as: why has the tax code not been simplified since the 1980’s; why income tax has not returned to the previous 40% level and will there be more efforts put in place to incentivise start up businesses and support their growth?  Each of the speakers summarised their final points and the Chairman thanked them for participating in an informative panel discussion on the budget.

With thanks to: Sophie Stratton, CWO Director of Forums and Charlotte Argyle.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Project Umubano 2012: Volunteer for Conservative Social Action

Volunteers for Conservative social action project
Project Umubano
Location: Rwanda and Sierra Leone
Voluntary project: 2 weeks in July 2012

Do you have the passion to volunteer in two of the world’s poorest countries? Can you contribute your skills to helping in Africa? Do you want to develop your skills whilst experiencing a new culture?

Project Umubano is recruiting volunteers for the last remaining places on our projects in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. This is a great opportunity for Conservatives who would like to help make a lasting difference in Africa.

About Project Umubano
Project Umubano is the Conservative Party's social action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Umubano means ‘friendship’ or ‘co-operation’ in Kinyarwandan, the mother tongue of Rwanda. The work that our teams do in Rwanda and Sierra Leone is driven by specific needs identified by our partners on the ground. In that way, we hope that our work will continue to have a lasting benefit long after we return home. 

Our volunteers
Volunteers join Conservative MPs, councillors and activists for two weeks in either Rwanda or Sierra Leone, working in teams in locations around each country.

Education Project in Sierra Leone
Theodora Clarke, CWO Director of Communications, will be leading the education project out in Sierra Leone. She is currently looking for volunteers who are interested in teaching children at a local school. Any experience teaching would be helpful but is not required as all volunteers will undertake TEFAL training. 

She said, "I went last year as a volunteer and was so impressed by the project that I decided to come back again to help organise the education project. We are partnered with a local NGO out there called Street Child of Sierra Leone which do invaluable work with orphans and children who have never been to school. We are delighted to return this year to expand the project and to help teach at SCoSL's local centre in Makeni."

Info here

Project Umubano is also looking for volunteers with specific training or skills in one or more of the following project areas:

  • health
  • sport
  • business
  • community (helping charitable organisations)
  • law
  • politics
  • education

Closing Date: 28 May 2012
Interview/Start Dates:
Informal interviews are held in the Westminster area or over the telephone. Please note that we may recruit before the closing date.

Job Contact:
For more information please visit and sign up by completing the electronic form on the ‘Join Us’ page. When applying, please specify your desired project area from the list above and include any qualifications, skills or experiences relevant to your field. If you have specific questions about the education project in Sierra Leone then please get in touch with 

You may also email your information to

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Vote for Boris: Taking Greater London Forward

A message from Boris Johnson:

The Mayoral election today comes when we have been going through the toughest times that anyone can remember.

The big question is therefore blindingly simple - who has the best plan for the jobs and growth that will help bring prosperity to all?

It is about who will deliver the investment from central government that will take London forward.

It is about who you can trust to spend that money wisely – and who will be honest with you about where the money is coming from, and how it is spent.

I believe my 9 point plan is right for the future of the greatest city on earth. It secures Greater London's future by cutting waste at City Hall, reducing council tax, creating 200,000 new jobs, protecting green space, investing in transport, cutting tube delays and ensuring a true Olympic legacy.

My ambition is to make London ever safer, greener, cleaner and more attractive to live, work and invest in.

By managing our budgets responsibly, we have abandoned the grandiose and wasteful approach of the previous mayor. This has allowed me to keep my promises to London over the last four years:

I have put 1,000 more police on the streets and now we are taking officers out of backroom jobs – putting 2,000 officers in Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

I have delivered a 24 hour Freedom Pass – and we will now make sure that everyone gets it as soon as they turn 60, and we will negotiate to put it on overground rail as well.

I got rid of the Western Extension Zone of the Congestion Charge, because it was imposed in defiance of people’s wishes.

I banned alcohol on public transport and put another 697 uniformed officers on the buses and Tube.
I have got rid of the bendy bus and introduced a new Routemaster-style bus for London, built in Britain, creating jobs in this country, the cleanest new bus in Europe – and each of them costs no more than a current hybrid bus.

I have saved billions in unnecessary expense at TFL, disposed of 23 buildings and 25% of the directors. I have sold two police flats and cut bonuses across the board.

And it is this relentless efficiency with your money that has allowed me to freeze the Mayoral share of council tax for four years. Now I am promising to cut it by 10%.

The choice is clear today.

It is between a Mayor who invests in our future – not the irresponsible proposals from Ken Livingstone that would put that investment at risk.

I know I am best placed to get the funds our city will need. I will use that money well – not waste it on schemes of no economic benefit to London.

I want to unite London – not try to divide one group from another.

I want to take London forwards – not back to the 1970s.

I believe I am best placed to lead London out of recession, to get real and lasting value from the Olympics, and to lengthen our lead as the greatest city on earth.

I hope I can count on your vote today. For Greater London. For the future.