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Should there be a rise in National Insurance?

09:26 UK time, Thursday, 1 April 2010

Another 14 business leaders say they are backing the Conservatives' plans to abandon the government's proposed rise in National Insurance. Do you agree with having a NI increase?

The latest group joins bosses of 23 other major companies, who warned the government that putting up National Insurance would endanger the recovery.

David Cameron calls it a "significant" moment in the election campaign whilst Labour calls Tory plans an "unfunded promise" and the Liberal Democrats describe them as "utterly unconvincing".

Mr Cameron tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme that halting the tax increase is not in conflict with his party's plan to cut Britain's record budget deficit.

Will halting the tax increase work? Do you agree with the 23 business leaders? How do you think Britain's budget deficit can be cut? Are you a business person? If so, what is your view? Is this a "significant" moment in the election campaign?

This debate is closed. Thank you for your comments.


Page 1 of 14

  • Comment number 1.

    Yes, I agree with them. A rise in employers NI is a tax on jobs. Any employer faced with an increase in costs will look for a reduction, this can only be in reducing the workforce to bring the costs back down again. The government loses out over this, there is no increase in employers NI contributions and more people become unemployed and dependant on the state. It really is a lose-lose situation.

  • Comment number 2.

    Maybe if the 23 business leaders took a big wage cut and gave it to their employees instead of moaning all the time.............!

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes of course I agree with these business leaders. What's to disagree with? Labour have taxed our butts off since they were elected and wrecked the economy in the process.

  • Comment number 4.

    New Labour sucked up to Big Business for the period it was in Office instead of catering to their core supporters.

    New Labour has been foisted by its own petard.

    I hope they learn from this.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's self-evident that if you increase the tax on jobs, which is what employers NI is, then you'll discourage employment. Apart from the adverse effect on the unemployed, that will also hit company growth, and thus economic growth.

    Raising taxes is obviously a way to reduce the deficit, but short term. Longer term, reducing taxes, and especially employers NI, the employment tax, will encourage employment and growth, producing larger tax revenues.

  • Comment number 6.

    Of course they are all lining up to praise Cameron - he stands a good chance of being the next Prime Minister (cold chill goes up spine).

    Its cheaper than paying lobbyists for influence, plus on a personal level, many of these 'captains of industry' will stand to benefit from the tories proposed changes to inheritence tax (along with most of the Conservative front bench.)

    The Conservatives - serving themselves, big business then you.

  • Comment number 7.

    Do I believe 23 leaders of business or unelected twice shamed Peter Mandelson? Clearly Peter Mandelson.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am more inclined to believe 23 respected business leaders than the likes of Brown, Darling and Mandelson and their associated cronies. My vote's going to the Conservatives.

  • Comment number 9.

    It is blindingly obvious that the NI increase will jeopardise job creation - jobs that will pay taxes and NI, the recovery is dependent on the private sector generating wealth for the country so please lets encourage this. The 50% tax rate should also be rescinded and that will raise more tax revenue. Penalising the successful because the socialists think its fair to do so seems a rather facile way to look at leading us out of recession

  • Comment number 10.

    It Just Shows how Childish the Labour party are becomming. They have been told by people who know what they are doing that the NI rise is wrong and they start calling everybody around them wrong.

    Typical Tactic for someone who knows he is wrong

  • Comment number 11.

    Millionaire fat cats supporting the Tories! Well I never.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think they should take a pay cut and give their huge bonus back if they want to help their companys, does Dave think voters will take any notice of a bunch of super rich business leader telling us what they think.

  • Comment number 13.

    The business leaders are absolutely 100% correct.

    I'm a partner in a growing company and I can tell you that the more cash we have, the more we will invest. We will hire more people, take more space, acquire more resource. We are determined to grow and these things will give us the capacity to pitch for new business.

    Business is the engine of the economy. It supplies ALL the wealth earned in the UK. All tax originates from business. I strongly advocate REDUCING taxation of businesses, but raising personal taxation.

    That will give directors the incentive to invest in their companies but dissuade them from taking money out in the form of bonuses or dividends.

    If you want to protect services, then start by protecting business.

  • Comment number 14.

    Seeing as its blindingly obvious that Labour have failed to budget for anything properly by having got this country into an almost criminal amount of debt I can't believe they have the nerve to comment against any other party.

  • Comment number 15.

    So the choice is to believe these business leaders who have progressed to the top of large successful businesses, or to believe the disgraced Mandleson who is currently the proven liar Browns best friend.

    No contest is it.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think its fair to say, on the balance of probability, that 23 senior business leaders with well-proven track records might just know what they are talking about when it comes to matters of business and economics in comparison to a P.M. with a PhD in History and a Chancellor .with LL.B; effectively the equivalent of two O-levels and a budgerigar
    As for the original come-back kid, the unelected High Plneipotentiary? I don't think anything from those lips should be given a grain of credence.

  • Comment number 17.

    This could be a PR gaffe by the tories. The public are not reknowned for their love of big business, so saying that a CEO agrees with you may not get the public on board.

  • Comment number 18.

    It really depends on whether you think that we should spend money on public sector jobs or prime the private sector. In the long run it has to be the private sector because thats the only way we will be able to pay off the debt incurred baling out the financial system.

  • Comment number 19.

    Of course these business men are correct they know and understand what it takes to make profit something the Government (of any colour) never understand because majority of them have never had a real meaningful job; You only have to look at the state of the country to realise the second raters we have now and how many would be employable in the private sector.

  • Comment number 20.

    As soon as Mandy opens his mouth, I believe that the majority are instantly of the opinion that it's a smear, and will ignore whatever he says

    Therefore it is likely there is some merit in what these business leaders are saying, and the Labour mouthpiece has been wheeled out to shout it down

  • Comment number 21.

    Is this an April fools day trick by these Business leaders?

    Self interest rich people supporting a 'quack' Tory party. We certainly don't need any advice from these rich overpaid executives. Their argument that the rise in NI will somehow put the recovery at risk is nonsense, the fact is we are already coming out of recession without their help. I am tried of this profit at all costs mentality, this is precisely what got us into this situation in the first place. These people are putting their companies and shareholders before the Country. What a disgrace.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yes I do agree with them, but probably not for the same reasons. I think that Employers' NI is a tax on jobs (even more so as any real meaning to NI as anything but just yet another tax is eroded) hence in a time when money is tight anything that makes employing people a bit less expensive is a good idea. They are probably just thinking that they have a little less to pay out for no discernable benefit.

  • Comment number 23.

    For 13 years Labour have lied about tax risers and stuck to their key pledge of not raising income tax.

    Now they have a new rate of 50%, which is a tax rise and the two methods they have used and lied about for 13 years.

    NI is in effect a secondary form of income tax, because it rises together with income, and it is a particularly devious way of raising tax because they get it twice from the worker and the company, therfore it is a tax on employment.

    Further by holding thresholds (as they are doing again) people get dragged into a higher tax bracket and increse their tax burden. Its known as fiscal drag and again has been used.

    Are the businessmen right, of course they are. They are some of the countries biggest employers and they grow the economy. The government generate nothing but waste.

  • Comment number 24.

    12. At 10:53am on 01 Apr 2010, frankiecrisp wrote:
    I think they should take a pay cut and give their huge bonus back if they want to help their companys, does Dave think voters will take any notice of a bunch of super rich business leader telling us what they think.


    Do you not think listening to people who got rich might help others learn to be more successful? Do you think rich people may be rich because they are actually skilled? that they might actually have opinions worth listening to?

    Or are you one of those pathetic people who think rich people only ever get rich by standing on people such as yourself.

    Your class envy is pathetic.

  • Comment number 25.

    6. At 10:49am on 01 Apr 2010, Pea Eye wrote:

    "The Conservatives - serving themselves, big business then you"

    Labour - serving themselves, end of chat!

  • Comment number 26.

    "Do you agree with business leaders?"

    Yes. This country is in debt to an extreme degree. This country needs to get back earning in order to pay off this debt. Unemployment is far too high. The unemployed give nothing to the UK in Tax. Most of them live off the country via benefits. Jobs are vanishing. We need Businesses to create more jobs - to enable people to work & pay taxes into this country's coffers. Raising NI makes it more expensive for businesses to take on new employees. We need more workers working - not more on benefits to drain even more non-existent money from this country. There are so many other areas of this obese government where financial cuts can be made. Many of these areas were created on a 'whim' for political reasons. The public are wise enough to face reality - even if our discredited government won't. So many lies, so much 'spin' - so detrimental to the UK and so deceiving of the people. If businesses fail the country fails.

  • Comment number 27.

    100% I agree with them! It's about time this issue was dragged out into the open. The private sector finances the public sector through taxation - which Governement seems to regard as an endless resource. Government and the pulic sector are riddled with inefficiencies that would mean bankruptcy in the private sector. But their attitude seems to be if you need more money simply raise taxes rather than look for a means of needing LESS money.

    Fix the leaks rather than opening the tap wider!

  • Comment number 28.

    Taxing jobs is not the way to get this country going when Labour have so comprehensively destroyed our industry. It's just more of the same failed Labour policy, the bill for which is in the post and will arrive after the election. So, the captains of industry are right and Mandelson, though a clever spin merchant, is wrong. Unless we have higher employment and more people paying tax we will never pay off the Labour debts.

  • Comment number 29.

    In case no-one's noticed the country is flat out broke. Tax rises, service decrease, and belt-tightening are an unfortunate necessity. And please let's not have any of this defending business nonsense. The whole business attitude of "Grab as much for myself as possible and to hell with the consequences for everyone else" is exactly what's caused this mess. Businessmen are never interested in anything other than their own gain, the astounding thing is that they actually have the nerve to claim that that's good for everyone else.

  • Comment number 30.

    These employers hire over half a million people including many of our student poulation trying to fund their way through college and universities.

    Any tax on jobs would be detrimental to the numbers they could afford to employ.

    It is an easy tax which takes the onus off labour to find more creative ways of reducing the debt problems which they created in the first place.

    Mandelson's childish language this morning is an insult to the many under 45's who are working hard to create this country's wealth which he and his cronies all seem to aspire to. They are too young and inexperienced to solve the problems he says. Sweetie jars and quacks were his words.

    Who does he think he is? Whenever were politicians able to solve anything? They are only as good as those who advise them and most of those are probably under 45 anyway.

  • Comment number 31.

    11. At 10:52am on 01 Apr 2010, billyhano wrote:
    Millionaire fat cats supporting the Tories! Well I never.

    Well atleast these "fat cats" have a vested interest in the UK unlike the Russian billionaires Peter Mandelson spends time with on yachts in Corfu.

  • Comment number 32.

    At this time, any funds taken from the public either directly or indirectly is totally wrong. We didn't create the recession, we didn't create the banking fiasco. I don't care what they do to raise funds to pay off debt but they will not get any more from the public until they demonstrate they can actually manage the economy and not stumble from crisis to crises oblivious to what is actually happening. Remember the "no more boom and bust" promise? Fulfill that promise first.

  • Comment number 33.

    These business leaders (repeat BUSINESS LEADERS)are absolutely correct. NI used to be about funding the welfare state, now it's just another tax to be squandered on the present government's pet social engineering projects. None of which address the fundamental, screaming need for investment, jobs and a viable future for young people. The NI uplift is purely and simply a tax on jobs and people need to get their heads out of the sand and realise that wealth creation is the only way out of this present mess. Jobs have been outsourced from the UK in their hundreds of thousands simply because it so horribly expensive to employ people here. What do we want? Everyone working for the State and getting pocket money? Grow up all you voters out there, open your eyes and see how dreadfully the country has been managed in the last 13 years. The blunt instrument of endless taxation has tipped into being part of the problem, not in any way part of the solution.

  • Comment number 34.

    Labour have proven once again that too much taxes kills growth. Our companies must be competitive in order to generate employment. It does not take a genius to work this out. For those who try to frighten us by bringing the "Thatcher years" into it, they forget that it took the "Iron Lady" to get us out of the last economic disaster created by Labour in the 70's. Nothing new. Same all over the world: Socialists tax and spend more than they can afford (of our money, thank you very much) and Conservatives try to generate a dynamic self-sufficient economy by lowering taxes when they can. The choice is simple. We won't spend more if we are unemployed or paying more tax, so we won't help the economy to grow. Roll on May 6th!

  • Comment number 35.

    Lets get real here - I'm an employer and of course the tax rise will hurt - but the money has to come from somewhere.

    Multi millionaire CEO's are bound to say this (no doubt peerages will follow), but its no good everbody claimimg we need to pay back the debt, but then arguing against unpopular measures.

    I should also point out, that these multi millionaires are the very people the Tories will make richer with their reduction in inheritance tax.

    George Osbourne is just being dishonest when he says repayment of debt will come from efficiency savings 9although these are needed).

    If the Tories get into power, there will suddenly be a raft of tax increases (excuse being "weve only just found out how bad thindgs are"), and you can bet your life these tax increases will not be aimed at the wealthy.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with these businessmen, if anyone knows about the employment situation in a recession, it is them. NI should not be increased because it is an insult against the working man. All tax rises should be on goods and services, not on a man's wages, then he can make up his own mind about what he wants to spend his hard earned cash on. If businesses don't like taxes on goods and services, then maybe they should be encouraged to reduce their prices. Unfortunately, unemployment is a fact of life in a recession, but this problem could be solved by stopping immigration. British jobs for British people and fair wages, including NI contributions for all.

  • Comment number 37.

    Labour always taxes to expand the state. I don't want a large state. Therefore this tax rise should not happen. Hence I shall vote Conservative.

  • Comment number 38.

    4. At 10:48am on 01 Apr 2010, JohnP wrote:
    New Labour sucked up to Big Business for the period it was in Office instead of catering to their core supporters.

    New Labour has been foisted by its own petard.

    I hope they learn from this.

    Learn what exactly? Where do you think the money comes from to pay for the public sector? Private business - run efficently create profits, which the government taxes. They employ people who the govern tax. Those taxes pay for the public sector - which is notoriously inefficent as it doesn't have to make a profit to survive. If it needs more money, this government simply raises taxes on the former to finance the latter. Surely even the most blinkered, naive socialist must concede that if the public sector were more efficent it would need less money from the private sector?

    Or perhaps money really does grow on trees?

    By the way - it's hoist by your own petard - not foist...

  • Comment number 39.

    Should there be a rise in National Insurance?

    A temporary rise in employees NI contributions, and I do mean temporary, would be ok. As for Employers NI contributions, this tax on jobs should be scrapped all together, as all this will achieve is even more companies heading off abroad resulting in less jobs (and less tax revenue) for the UK.

  • Comment number 40.

    I almost reached for a sick bag super rich business men telling people on low and average wages that they think they are taxed to much , I doubt most of them pay much tax in this country. I hope this backfires on Dave and Osbourne.

  • Comment number 41.

    I wonder how many of these firms were the same ones who backed claims that the minimum wage would cause thousands of job losses? Many of them have a mainly low-paid workforce who could live for years just on one year of the employer's annual bonus! The truth, if you can ever bring them to the admission is that they will employ as many people for as little as possible to get their business running. They would also like to have redindancy laws altered so they can sack workers almost at will- like in the 'good old days' of their grandfathers. They will absorb the costs, not by reducing the workforce, because that would suggest that they hadn't been working to reduce inefficiency in the first place, but by putting twopence on a tin of peas, or leaving off renewing the carpet on the aircraft for a year etc...etc. As for those 'efficiency savings' they have all been making, they largely rise from workers putting in extra, unpaid hours of overtime due to the fear of losing their jobs fostered by these same employers. it might be worth the BBC surveying some of these bosses' employees to find out whether NI will really make a difference to whether or not they lose their job!

  • Comment number 42.

    How dare the Evil Tories suggest that in a time of economic pressure the bestplace for peoples money is in there pocket. Don't they know that the money is needed to buy votes from layabout scroungers. To prop up an inefficent public sector, to pay NHS consultants to suggest cut back in services, to fight wars we have no place fighting. The money gained from a NI rise could be wasted in countless ways by the most "Prudant" man in history.

  • Comment number 43.

    So rich businessmen favour the Tories. Nothing new in that. They know that if elected the Tories will look after them - at the expense of the rest of us. Perhaps if Labour supporters and pensioners, those most likely to be hardest hit by by the Tory alternatives to an increase in NI payments,were to boycott the likes of M & S, these so called business leaders might see their bonuses cut as a direct result of their political inteference. This would serve them right.
    Its not long since the boss of M&S was going out of his way to convince us he was apolitical. Aye, right!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    21. At 11:06am on 01 Apr 2010, GoBetween wrote:
    We certainly don't need any advice from these rich overpaid executives.


    You go on taking advice from poor people then - see where that leads you.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well it would appear that the Guardian Online is making a big thing of this for Labour mind you not surprising they do support them.

    I think Labour are trying all tricks to discredit this I mean they wheel out mandelson as if people are going to listen to him , I think buisness leaders have a better understanding of economics than Labour, and Labour don't like it, its like calling those buisness leaders liars. I think people will believe buisness more than Labour.

  • Comment number 46.

    All those signatories would doubtlessly also demand an abolition of the higher band of tax which eats into their exhorbitant salaries so you have to recognise where they're coming from and just who they represent i.e. self-interest.

  • Comment number 47.

    Last month the Tories were crowing over the support they received from 20 economists. The economists agreed with the THEN Tory policy of using any efficiency savings or cuts to reduce the defecit.
    Today the Tories are crowing over the support from 20 businessmen for their NEW policy, to use efficiency savings for tax cuts. A 180 degree U-turn.
    How long will this latest Tory economic policy last. Can we believe any party that changes their priorites so often.

  • Comment number 48.

    No NI is a tax on jobs.
    Has the BBC noted that Brown was advised by the B of E against selling the Gold when he became Chancellor? The man did it just to show off it certainly wasn't fiscal prudence.

  • Comment number 49.

    oh dear Maddy is now calling the Tories "liars" basically and that coming from the biggest political "deceiver" of modern an owner of a small business I am struggling at the best of times but if I had to pay more NI I would have to look to cut costs elsewhere and the first thing to look at would be how many employees I have, their hours etc, and they would feel any cuts first....and to the person who said business men just take and then run...I actually help people within my own community....obvioulsy a serious socialist...don't you realise that socialism is dead and that's why we got Nu Labour...and they will be dead after this election...thank goodness

  • Comment number 50.

    Absolutely I back the Conservatives move.

    It was silly of Labour to have proposed the inccease in the first place because it would damage the recovery.

    Osborne has already said how it would be funded.

    Mandelson is just trying to issue a baseless "soundbite". Its the standard Labour tactic - say something false lots of times and someone might believe it.

  • Comment number 51.

    As an entrepreneur and a businessman I wholeheartedly agree with them. Labour have never understood business, particularly the current minister.

  • Comment number 52.

    This country needs to help businesses grow in a sustainable way to help us get out of the financial mess. A cut in NI will help. I agree with the conservatives on this and it is encouraging to see it being supported by business leaders. Labour inherited a sound economy in 1997 and have systematically destroyed it. Brown encouraged banks to lend wrecklessly in the UK and never regulated their derivative investments. He took the tax from their initial profitability and called it his "prudent" approach, basking in monthly UK growth numbers. His financial stability was built on sand and although we saw the fallout from America two years previously he could and should have taken action to protect the UK. He did nothing. The most ironic thing is that Labour now criticise the Conservatives on this tax initiative as if they have done wonders with the economy. Gordon Brown will be remembered for nearly bringing this country to a total financial meltdown. I would not trust him with a childs piggy bank.

  • Comment number 53.

    Basically, NuLabour are taking monet straight out of my and my employers pockets and giving it to the bankers for massive bonuses. I am sick to death of working longers and harder hours to fund greedy fatcat bosses, corrupt thieving politicians and the lazy workshy underclasses.
    Any more taxes (like the inevitable rise in PAYE after the election, park at work tax or hugh increases in council taxes) and I will give up and join the underclass. A pay rise (income support with a wife and three kids, free housing, no council tax, pAYE, NI, free school meals, free prescriptions and dental care, no travel to work, park at work, pension contribtions) and a permanent holiday would suit me fine.

  • Comment number 54.

    35. At 11:19am on 01 Apr 2010, forwardpasser wrote:
    Lets get real here - I'm an employer and of course the tax rise will hurt - but the money has to come from somewhere.

    Multi millionaire CEO's are bound to say this (no doubt peerages will follow), but its no good everbody claimimg we need to pay back the debt, but then arguing against unpopular measures.

    I should also point out, that these multi millionaires are the very people the Tories will make richer with their reduction in inheritance tax.


    Sorry, but I find your credibility as an employer laughable. The tories plans for IHT work from the bottom upwards. They do not favour the rich, the people who will be taken out of IHT who currently pay it would be the bottom whatever %, not the top. It's the same as raising the tax free allowance, or as an employer are you unaware of that too?

    So either you don't understand it, or you just want to push labours lies.

  • Comment number 55.

    #20, Muppet Master, Hehe, you're funny.

    Some merit in big business supporting the tories policy of giving more money to big business, well d'uh!

    Just remember, these people do not care for there employees, they care for their balance sheets, when a recession comes, do you notice these people all getting more modest cars, downsizing their homes or putting their yachts in mothballs until the storm is over. No, they sack workers, talk of 'efficiency' and maybe they'll take a cut in wages from ooh lets say, £3m down to £2.76 and may only visit the Monte Carlo flat 3 times this month.

    Yes, I may be exaggerating a bit and you can accuse me of not living in a real world, but if you think they are any better, or less self serving than the people that you are suggesting we replace, then I must have just paid a breif visit to yours.

    The Conservative Party, Looking after the 1% at the expense of your country, just like they did the last time. None of you could have been around in the 80s, or we wouldn't be having this conversation.

  • Comment number 56.

    "tax on jobs".... what else exactly CAN you tax?

    You can't call tax paid by benefit claimants "tax" as it is money provided by taxes anyway.

    National Insurance is a scam anyway, what is the point in having different taxes for different things, if none of them are ring-fenced anyway, and are all spent on the same things?

  • Comment number 57.

    Well, they have to get the money from somewhere, and an NI rise is probably one of the least painful ways to do it: or would people have preferred a rise in income tax instead? However, announcing it right before an election probably isn't the wisest move!

    Maybe they should ask the bailed-out banks to repay some of the money that was given to them?

    Of course, if the Tories hadn't destroyed manufacturing in this country, then we wouldn't have an economy that is based solely on shuffling money around and doing odd-jobs for the world's rich.

  • Comment number 58.

    "Big business dont want to pay any thing, for the benifit of they workers today. How many in them companys ,have no rights and on min wages? All they care about is the shareholders and profit. How can this be a tax on jobs? The muti milloniares' who run them company dont pay they fair share of tax, never have, never will, They accountants know all the loop -holes.

  • Comment number 59.

    Unfortunately this Government has lied so many times before they have forfeited the right to be believed. Peter Mandelson is one of the most mendacious of them all, to some people he appears to have become some kind of elder statesman but in truth he is still exactly the same as he always was, a rather untrustworthy spin-doctor.

  • Comment number 60.

    Lord Mandelson is a little confused - or spinning out of control. The Tories did not increase VAT after their 1992 victory. The increase was in 1991.

  • Comment number 61.

    Perhaps the business leaders would do better to ask about the plans for VAT?
    Ultimately any tax is a tax on jobs, so why can’t these people see the bigger picture?
    Given our situation, we can’t avoid tax increases & I’d personally rather see this rise than a rise in VAT or income tax.
    Some cost cutting at Board Room level would help here rather than just jumping on the Election band wagon & whining.

  • Comment number 62.

    I think the increase should be scrapped.
    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, how can Mandelson accuse the Tories of misleading the public and still keep a straight face.
    I expect that the loss in income could be easily compensated by reducing the number of government ministers to a sensible proportion (half?), getting rid of non elected members of government and reducing the number of consultants and consultations

  • Comment number 63.

    Whoops this is going to cost M&S, Sainsburys, Next, Mitchell & butler big time! the last thing you want is for your pup landlord or supermarket manager trying to tell you how to vote?

    what mandate do these company execs have from shareholders and customers to support one particular political party?

    and given that David Cameron himself rubbished the idea that you could fund future government policy from efficency savings! how well thought out has the backing these company leaders given to this idea been?

    do they ever think through what they are endorsing? like me if you dont like them backing any political party on the back of your custom then vote with your feet and wallet!

    so off to asda for a new outfit, some groceries and cheap beer!

  • Comment number 64.

    To some extent a number of leading CEO's saying they agree with there being less tax on their business is a bit like the news of a bear doing its business in the woods. I would also exercise a bit of caution here as some of these leaders, such as the Next CEO, are very active Conservative supporters, though this does not apply to all of them.
    Where I think their response is incomplete and smacks of political interference is in the way they have isolated this one issue. I would be classified as a small / medium business leader, and I don't welcome a tax increase on the company, but at the same time I do want to see the level of national debt come down and need to know where this is going to come from. George Osborne had previously stated that reducing debt was number one priority, but since then there has been a conflict of messages from his boss who said not so much would be done in year 1, and now an apparent u-turn by the shadow chancellor.
    To say this will be funded by savings in waste is a nonsense. For one thing if those savings can be made, then if reducing debt is your priority then use them to do that. But in any case, every opposition always claims to see these magic waste figures that they can cut and it never happens. And I don't believe that George Osborne has shown the ability to deliver on those.
    The other confusion in the business leaders letter is that their rationale is that this comes at the wrong time in the economic cycle. At a high level, this suggests that while they don't like this one particular issue, strategically they are more aligned to Darling's message of allow the private sector to recover further before really tackling the debt. This is different to the Conservative message of cut sooner, though it is becoming more vague by the day where they stand on this.
    This is a real faultline in the argument - as reading the letter I don't think the CEO's realise they are saying that they agree with the Conservatives on this line of detail, but are in some ways closer to Labour on the overall strategy - and the latter is actually the bigger issue.

  • Comment number 65.

    Mandleson and Labour know all about deceiving people - referendum on the EU treaty anyone? Or what about the 10 year transport plan, or the PM who would finish the full 3rd term in office, or the dodgy dossier, or the misuse of immigration statistics just the other day...

    I could go on but would end up with RSI!

  • Comment number 66.

    As a small business employer, I fully agree with this. If the rise comes in, at least one of my staff will have to go to fund it. Sad but a fact.

    And as for Mandelson and his pathetic sycophantic interview, can someone please shut him up. He is unelected, untrustworthy and only interested in serving Peter Mandelson and his own self indulgent career. As long as he's OK, he couldn't care less about what happens to the rest of us. The day that some truth comes out of his mouth is the day that Elephants will start to fly.

  • Comment number 67.

    BBC, I deplore your hyperlinking of Three Political Party websites in the write-up to this question.

    This is obviously biased against any other political party that BBC chooses to neglect, and a violation of your policy of neutrality.

  • Comment number 68.

    A problem with the proposed NI increase is that many believe it will just "disappear" under the guise of helping to pay down our National debt whilst inhibiting job recruitment.
    If on the other hand,a hypothecated NI increase to fund future elderly care were to be proposed, many more would support this - provided this did not displace the need to ruthlessly reduce waste & make more effective use of resources

  • Comment number 69.

    I do not agree with the rise as it a tax inposed because the government debt, but when the debt is paid off will it be decreased by 1%..... no

  • Comment number 70.

    Mandelson has a cheek accusing Osbourne of getting sweeties without paying. Labour have been spending money they don't have like it's going out of fashion for years. Remember, the budget deficit when they took over in 1997 was £6 billion. How many noughts have labour added to this even after stealing peoples pensions to the tune of £5 billion per year.

  • Comment number 71.

    Mandleson's reply to everyone is as usual the throw insults from the cliff-top ..

    I wish instead he would just jump from it ... he comes across as partronisingly arrogant - extraordinary behaviour from a failed disgraced
    but EU resurected non-elected .. etc

  • Comment number 72.

    To forward passer. How many do you employ? One? I too have a business and the rise in National Insuarance would mean that I wcould not take on any more staff as this stealth tax would destroy any chance of even a small profit. Isn't amazing how jealosuy overcomes common sense, these busienss leaders have put in the hours and worked to get where they are, I would rather listen to them instead of Mr Fiddle himeself, Lord Mandelscum. Labour is on the run, and instead of coming out with sensible alternatives are lashing out at anybody and everybody who doesn't agree with their lies and spin. Wake up sheeple, or go under much like labour has done with this country. And before some little idiot comes up with 'he,s a Tory lover' Up until the beginning of this year I supported Labour for over 45 years, but then again, I look at facts with a clear head, not through bigotry, pathetic hatred and brainwashing.

  • Comment number 73.

    NI tax increases are the worst kind of tax increases. They tax both the individual and the employer so they are a tax on jobs while allowing the government to say they have kept income tax rates the same.

    IF GB & Darling were really brave they would have made the required tax rises by increasing income tax.

    If they hadn't wasted so much money in the boom years we might not have had to do this.

    Solution. Get rid of the Labour government - simples!

  • Comment number 74.

    Thgere should not be and increase in NI. Our problem is that we are pying too much too benefit claimants and for support to immigrants. If those bills were reduced then the money sved cooulkd be spent on more social care and taxation through NI not increased and even reduced.

  • Comment number 75.

    I run a small business employing half a dozen people. I am not a fat cat boss on millions a year, and we have really struggled to keep going during the recession. Things are slowly picking up and I would like to employ one or two more people to deal with increased demand. But it is still very tough out there, margins have been cut right back and cashflow is tight. Any additional costs of employment such as NI, makes the decision to increase staff more difficult and more of a risk. Surely the best way of getting the deficit down os to get people off benefits and back into employment. We all know there will be tax increases whoever wins the next election, but increasing NI is going in the wrong direction.

  • Comment number 76.

    The country is in need of a reality check we are no longer the manufacturing power that in the past created the wealth. The past 13 years of mis-management and prolific spending of borrowed money will have to be paid for. I am amazed at the current level of public apathy there is toward our plight and it seems to echo peoples attitude about there own finances which generally surrounds borrowing ,the benefits mentality and the “government will look after them”. The government do not create wealth in fact as recently experienced they rob the tax payer. I recall my young son many years ago asking what happens when there are more people on benefits than there are tax payers I responded by saying civil strife. The national insurance should be scrapped and tax should go directly on to purchasing. We have to create an environment which dramatically changes the welfare mentality perpetuated by Labour and there communist brothers of the trade union movement.

  • Comment number 77.

    Top Business Leaders Back Tories On Tax - is the Sky News headline.

    Labour hits back over Tory tax plans - is how the BBC decides to cover the story with: 'A row erupts after Lord Mandelson says the bosses of 23 major companies have been "deceived" by Tory tax promises.'

    i apologise if this is off topic of the discussion itself, But it seems the BBC are willing to report an issue however Mr Mandelson wants them to and i for one am getting a little tired of seeing Labourised headlines at the top of the news agenda on the BBC.

  • Comment number 78.

    I agree with the business leaders.

    It would be heartening to think that Labour's proposed hit on National Insurance contributions is not simply another stealth tax but, in reality, that's all it will be. The money will be spent upon almost anything other than reducing the UK deficit and, I suspect, very largely on feeding the ever-growing public sector wage bill.

    This is apparent at even the most humble level. There are presently two sets of council "workforces" along the road, spending days and weeks on jobs that private enterprise accomoplishes in a matter of a few hours/days. They turn up at around 0930 hours, and break for coffee; this is followed a a series of other breaks through the day, and they have all finished and gone home by 1600 hours. There is no-one to supervise or inspect their work, or rather lack of it.

    Without these local authority layabouts dotted all over the country, public expense could be slashed at one stroke. Handing them their brown envelopes would add to the unemployed but it would be a lot cheaper than paying them benefits.

  • Comment number 79.

    Sorry, but I find your credibility as an employer laughable. The tories plans for IHT work from the bottom upwards. They do not favour the rich, the people who will be taken out of IHT who currently pay it would be the bottom whatever %, not the top. It's the same as raising the tax free allowance, or as an employer are you unaware of that too?

    So either you don't understand it, or you just want to push labours lies.

    no doubt Lord ashcroft will agree with this non tax paying thingy.

    TORY donor Lord Ashcroft vowed today to stop being a "non-dom" and pay full tax in this country on his earnings.

    The millionaire's announcement immediately piled pressure on some of Labour's richest donors to become full British taxpayers too.

    Lord Ashcroft has been attacked by Labour for not being fully registered to pay tax in the UK, but has always refused to talk about the issue.

    In a statement today, he finally confirmed he WAS a non-dom.

    And he promised to become fully "resident and domiciled" in the UK if the Tories win the next election.

    Read more:

  • Comment number 80.

    40. At 11:22am on 01 Apr 2010, frankiecrisp wrote:
    I almost reached for a sick bag super rich business men telling people on low and average wages that they think they are taxed to much , I doubt most of them pay much tax in this country. I hope this backfires on Dave and Osbourne.


    Why do so many people not understand NI. Businesses pays NI, and YOU (well those of you who work) pay NI too.

    Companies have to factor in NI payments when they employ staff - push up NI and less new jobs will appear.

    But if you'd rather push that 'rich people giving money to rich people' claptrap then good luck to you.

  • Comment number 81.

    Typical BBC to put Mandelson's reaction as the headline in order to undermine a pro Tory news story. BBC bias? Where?

  • Comment number 82.

    It's not the most sensible tax increase. The element that is particularly worrying is the 1% rise in the employer's national insurance rates. These means that if you employ 100 people you are having to pay for one additional employee. The large employers who employ thousands throughout the country will either reduce employment to counter the rate increase, or more likely put on hold any recruitment.
    It isn't just the additional 1% rate in national insurance that is the issue, it is the total costs of employing people in the UK, be it maturnity rights, pension etc. The truth is is that we are non competitive compared to most of the world.
    I worked for a large multinational manufacturer, and recently had to close one site employing 160 people, simply because it was cheaper to produce in Poland, and our customers had also relocated from the UK to Eastern Europe. At another of our factories we had to make redundant 50% of the workforce (80 people) as we lost a key contract to the far east where Labour rates are 10% of the costs in this country.

  • Comment number 83.

    Good grief - bunch of mindless sheep whichever viewpoint people appear to support, this is such a non-story and yet another example of the kind of nonsense our corrupt politicians spout in the hope that people will fall for it.

    1. Why should we take any notice of these people, they are businessmen. The idea that running a business and running a country have anything in common is a load of dangerous rubbish, dangerous as it SOUNDS so plausible but actually does not stand up to scrutiny.

    2. We're in an economic mess, we're going to be hit by tax increases no matter who gets into power, the only question is which taxes. At the end of the day economic neccessity is going to drive the next government's policies whatever the colour, and we're all going to hurt. The choice we are being given at the election is - Which old-boy's network are we going to give the keys to the safe to? - not much of a choice really!

  • Comment number 84.

    '"tax on jobs".... what else exactly CAN you tax?'

    whiny comments on have your say! theyd make a fortune from it!

  • Comment number 85.

    I think these business leaders should stick to running their businesses and not poke their noses into politics .......... they are not politicians!! Do they think that all their customers are Tories? I am a regular user of Sainsbury's and B&Q but am not a Tory ........ I hate them! Therefore I will not be giving anymore custom to these businesses and will divert it to companies that prefer to stick to what they know about.

  • Comment number 86.

    These so called busines leaders (read the full list I've never heard of most of them) should perhaps focus on their own business, they are only concerned that they will have to contribute more NI as well as the rest of us. These are part of the same ilk that caused the whole dam mess in the first place. Half of them have no concept that the selling floor staff work for £6 an hour. This lot spend more on first class travel than most of their employees earn in year.

    I'd rather not pay more NI but the Tory plans will only benefit the top 5% of our society, they always have and always will. For business leaders to say it's a tax on jobs, well wait for the next vat rise under the tories where the lowest paid end up paying more of their total income on yet another tax. It stinks.

    Perhaps if the top earners stopped tax avoidance and paid a fair amount just like the rest of us and stopped be greedy (after all if they earn £1m a year is £550k not enough?????) then perhaps we'd get out of this mess sooner. Is it right that I pay a bigger percentage of what I earn in tax than the bloke who own BHS? Labour are far from perfect but when the Tories get in (they will win easy) the cuts in spending on Schools, the NHS, Transport every department will be massive and this will impact upon the worst off not those at the top, they will always be ok, but hey that's all they ever cared about in the first place.

  • Comment number 87.

    john Adair wrote:
    Basically, NuLabour are taking monet straight out of my and my employers pockets and giving it to the bankers for massive bonuses.


    Since when did National Insurance go towards bankers?

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    The public sector creates not a penny of wealth.

    Taken to the extreme, if everybody was a civil servant then the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be zero.

    Once the state comsumes more than the around forty percent of what the Country produces in order to provide essential services such as defence, health and transport infrastructure then everybody starts to get poorer.

  • Comment number 90.

    Blimey there's hysteria everywhere from Labour,think this has got them really rattled,reading the Live blog on the Guardian, apparently 2 of the buisness's have rejected mandelsons claim they are being decieved by the Tories..oh dear shame.

    On a lighter note the Guardian has a spoof poster(at least i think it is) of Gordon Brown in reference to his bullying claims with the words "Step Outside Posh Boy" and then at bottom Vote Labour...Or else,lol.

  • Comment number 91.

    £1.4 trn national debt run up by Labour.
    The Public Sector is not going to reduce this, just increase it.
    Anything at all, such as not increasing NI is going to help the Private Sector generate growth and create more jobs.

  • Comment number 92.

    Lord Mandelson, unelected, unaccountable, resigned from Government several times and then firstly given a well paid EU job then back to The Lords.

    I should think anything he says will cost Labour thousands of votes. He's a joker.

  • Comment number 93.

    It is disappointing how many people are saying that we should not believe "23 fat cat businessmen". The critics should put their envy to one side and try to understand the facts. Those businessmen are not self-employed. They are employees of their companies, so they will not directly suffer from the threatened rise in employer's national insurance contributions. That rise is simply an increased cost for their companies - it is blindingly obvious that if money is spent on NI contributions it is not then available for taking on additional workers, stifling the growth of companies. That growth is good for the companies and their executives, but it is also good for the economy and therefore the rest of us. It is not a sin for companies and their managers to be successful and this is not a time for us to be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
    The rise is also dishonest - NI is now being used as part of general taxation, not just to pay for the welfare state as originally intended. If the government was being honest it would just increase income tax.

  • Comment number 94.

    if not N.I then VAT will have to go up either way taxs are going to rise.

  • Comment number 95.

    Labour need to get it through their think skulls that we don't want more and more and more taxes to fund their extravagant ideas.

    May 6th will hopefully drive that message home.

  • Comment number 96.

    Labour tax plans including NI may hurt but they are designed to help recovery that was caused by the fat cat greedy bankers.

    Look who signed this 'letter', the following. Sir Anthony Bamford (JCB); Bill Bolsover (Aggregates Industries); Dominic Burke (Jardine Lloyd Thompson); Ian Cheshire (Kingfisher); Neil Clifford (Kurt Geiger); Mick Davis (Xstrata); Aidan Harvey (Tullow Oil); Lord Harris (Carpetright); Justin King (Sainsbury's); Sir Chris Gent (GlaxoSmithKline); Ben Gordon (Mothercare); John Lovering (Mitchells and Butler); Graham Mackay (SAB Miller); Alistair McGeorge (Matalan); Nicolas Moreau (Axa UK); Stephen Murphy (Virgin Group); Alan Parker (Whitbread); Sir Stuart Rose (Marks and Spencer); Paul Walsh (Diageo); Joseph Wan (Harvey Nichols); Simon Wolfson (Next); Zameer Choudrey (Bestway Cash and Carry); Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (easyGroup)

    Note the absence of women.

    I would wager my last penny that these other fat cats would vote conservative if their candidate was a dead parrot so all they are doing backing Cameron's election campaign.

  • Comment number 97.

    If we had not suffered under Nu Labour destroying the UK ecconomy and then trying to convince us that it was a World problem we would not need the ever increasing taxes to feed Gordon's proflegacy.

    The social experiment which Nu Labour set upon has been a catalogue of lies and deceptions. I would not trust anything which the self serving Mr Mandleson has to say. He still has ambitions but as was said of the ex Conservative leader - "There is something of the Night about him!"

  • Comment number 98.

    I almost reached for a sick bag super rich business men telling people on low and average wages that they think they are taxed to much , I doubt most of them pay much tax in this country. I hope this backfires on Dave and Osbourne.

    These people are the people who run our major businesses and they know how competitive the world economy is. If uk businesses don't make profits, the businesses close and people lose their jobs. Manufacturing in this country is losing jobs daily because our labour rates are significantly higher than in the far East, and compare unfavourable to Eastern Europe. I have first hard experience of having to lose over 250 jobs because of it. It isn't just the basic pay rates, it is all the add on costs imposed by the limit on working hours, extension of maternity rights etc. Also the red tape issues imposed by the Government and the EU have increased costs. It means we just can not compete, and adding an additional 1% tax will simply make the situation worse.

  • Comment number 99.

    Like anyone would believe anything Mandleson, Brown or Darling have to say. Mandelson with his history of fraud, Brown with his lies and incompetence and Darling (once thought of as 'honest') having lied in the recent Budget (foe example, remember the 1p per litre rise in fuel duty? When considering the reduction in duty offset to the suppliers and VAT it turns out to be closer to 2.5p per litre).

    National Insurance increases were just part of the Labour plan to continue with the every increasing tax burden on workers and companies alike to finance their policy of waste. We need to get away from this and soon!

    Bring on the election!

  • Comment number 100.

    Nat Ins has been Labour's favourite stealth tax. It is a tax on jobs and indicative of Labour's folly to bolster the civil and public services at the cost of the private sector.


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