The government has struck a clear line on the economy heading into the election, vowing that it will be the party to guide Britain tenderly through the steps of recovery, nurturing new jobs and fostering enterprise. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In contrast to this rhetoric, the latest research from the British Chambers of Commerce shows that proposed employment legislation would cost businesses £25.6bn in new taxes and regulations if they are but into effect. ‘Employment legislation: holding back recovery?’ is a timeline that breaks down the plethora of the costs of proposed regulations between 2010 and 2014. Amazingly, these estimates are lifted straight from the government’s own Impact Assessments, so in all likelihood the unintended financial consequences would prove to be even higher.
What is interesting is that only two of the new proposals will be EU legislation; sixteen will be coming directly from the UK government. While the EU-enforced Agency Workers Directive is set to cost business nearly 1.5bn a year, the rise in NI contributions will cost a staggering 4.7bn a year, and the Pensions Reforms in 2010 4.8bn. None of these regulations are even attempts to make British firms more productive, competitive or attractive; not a good idea and at a time when the private sector doesn’t need it.
This £25bn won’t even be reaching the treasury to fix the gaping hole in our nation’s finances. Much of the estimated cost represents lost opportunities, such as the closing down of a venture and the decision not to expand or start one up to begin with. Given the colossal national debt, the government shouldn’t be wasting our money dreaming up wasteful Keynesian initiatives and adding ever more regulation to an already fragile economy.