Wednesday, February 24, 1999 Published at 21:39 GMT
Small businessman: Help our cashflow
Graham Playle and his wife Janet are directors of Creative Business Services, which incorporates two other companies, Double Image and Typos.
The company, based in Leytonstone in Essex, is in the corporate communications business. It handles everything from printing and graphic design to public relations, marketing and translation services. It has 13 employees.
As director of a small business, Graham Playle is particularly keen to see the chancellor of the exchequer do something to improve corporation tax for smaller companies. One thing he would like is collection on a quarterly basis rather than in one annual payment, which can cause severe cashflow problems for smaller enterprises: "It's not pleasant to have a tax demand for £12,000 arrive in the post".
Another suggestion is for the system to take more account of the general health of a business when assessing it for tax purposes. Mr Playle suggests looking at overall turnover and growth rate over a few years.
Staffing problems - recruitment and costs
Finding staff can be a problem for small businesses and Creative Business Services is no exception - one particular problem being a lack of good printers at the present time. Mr Playle believes there are fewer people training in this area for a variety of reasons and he would like to see greater support for training initiatives.
This is based on positive experience of existing schemes. Three of the 13 employees came to the company via the Network scheme under which they were financially subsidised during their training.
This lack of suitably qualified staff tends to push up a firm's labour costs and Mr Playle is adamant that further burdens on employing staff must be avoided. Employers' national insurance costs are already scheduled to rise in April and he definitely does not want another increase on 9 March.
The euro: 'It has to be done'
Looking at the wider economy, Mr Playle is "convinced that the government wants to push interest rates down to the 3% level" so the UK can join the euro. His company has no loans or overdraft which would benefit from this and his own personal savings would in fact suffer.
However, he wants Gordon Brown to take steps to help get the wider economy moving again: "Our industry has never really recovered properly from the recession in the early 1990s _ and it is still sluggish." In addition, he thinks that joining the euro "has got to be done".
His business does not work directly in Europe, but it is a service company and its customers would benefit from the euro, therefore creating more work all round: "International investment is needed in Britain and that is more likely if we are in the euro. And the benefits to big business will ripple down to small businesses."
One thing Mr Playle would like to see the chancellor do is to build up public confidence. "We are being talked into a recession. The domestic economy is basically ok, but talk of problems means people spend less and that leads to a real recession."
On the government's possible tax-raising measures, Mr Playle has no strong views on issues such as the 10p tax rate or most excise duties such as alcohol and tobacco.
Green taxes, however, do interest him and would like to see a greater differential in the prices of unleaded and leaded petrol. Even better would be for the chancellor to set car tax at different levels according to the size and efficiency of the engine - penalising bigger cars at the expense of smaller ones - as is the case in much of Europe.
But however Mr Brown chooses to bring in government revenue, Mr Playle would like it to make sure it uses the money wisely. Failure to provide a good health or education service, he argues, amounts to a hidden 'tax' on ordinary people because they end up contributing privately.
Health and education are his main concerns and his family is being affected by this 'tax' in the latter area. His younger daughter is doing her A-levels and is seriously considering not going to university because of the way the government is making students pay more towards their education - something his older daughter just avoided.
When Mr Brown considers what to do with the country's billions, Mr Playle would like him to address this issue.