Margareta Pagano: Move over, Darling - here's your Budget

With just 10 days to go, and after intensive discussions with my local newsagent and other top industrialists, please accept my advice

Now the macho G20 is out of the way, it is time for Alistair Darling to show he can be just as robust handling the real needs of Britain's business community. So, respecting governments' traditional reverence for the opinions of the unelected and the capriciously co-opted, here is a modest guide to what he should announce in next week's Budget. I am grateful for contributions from some of the country's top industrialists and to Jay, my local newsagent and serial entrepreneur, who have told me what they would like from the Chancellor and, frankly, if he doesn't get it right this time, it's time to move over, Darling.



Savings

The Chancellor needs to win over the millions of pensioners whose savings have been wiped out as well as entice people back into saving. The Tories have tinkered with this by promising that basic-rate taxpayers will be exempt from tax on savings and by increasing age-related allowances, giving pensioners some £400 more a year. But this doesn't go far enough. This is a good chance for Darling to outwit them. One simple way would be to triple the tax-free ISAs allowance of £3,600.



Pensions

Currently those who pay basic-rate tax get 20 per cent relief on their pension payments while those paying 40 per cent tax get the same in relief. How about equalising the relief so that everybody gets 30 per cent? It's fair and spreads the gains.



Training

Cash is running out for the adult apprentice scheme. This is disastrous as retraining is the policy most likely to get us through this crisis. Companies should get double-expense allowances for taking on new staff; bring in school-leavers and graduates on training or volunteering type schemes (tax relief from the Government) and train them up in disciplines for the future, whether it be forestry or conservation. Incentives should be offered to pupils studying sciences.



Education

Encourage our greatest brains at Imperial College, Cambridge and Oxford to lead a new troika think-tank with Government, other academics and our top venture capitalists to come up with 10-year plan to create new research projects in the biotechnology/medical and engineering fields. Increase tax relief on all R&D projects to promote new research and incubator companies.



Infrastructure

Borrow Guillaume Pepy, head of the French SNCF railways, to help build the best railway network in the world. Link London to Scotland, to Manchester and Birmingham with TGV lines. Let the private sector raise the capital with railway bonds: something for pensioners to buy for their children with their untaxed savings.



Housing

Just abolish HIPs.



Local banks and credit unions

The Treasury and the Financial Services Authority should encourage new banks and credit unions as well as offer insurance schemes for distressed companies. If it can be done for banks, it can be done for companies.



Green habits

The Government should promise tax relief for green technology incubator companies, give big subsidies to home-owners and businesses for retro fitting and cut capital gains tax for those investing in green technologies. Britain is bottom of the world league in green technology, manufacturing less than 5 per cent of the world's eco-businesses: time to spearhead a new industrial revolution.



Bad habits

They can't admit it but governments like people to smoke, drink and drive big, petrol-guzzling cars as they are the best sources of huge tax revenues. Keep tax increases to a minimum but freeze the price of a pint to save our pubs, six of which are closing a day.



Taxes

Darling can't and won't cut taxes, which is what he should do to stimulate wealth creation, but he can be bold instead. One radical move would be to reform council spending by cutting the central budget and giving them tax-raising powers instead. Take the lowest paid out of tax altogether but don't put the top rate up again.

Cut company rates for investment which will help job creation. One industrialist goes even further, challenging the Chancellor to give businesses a three- to five-year tax holiday. Cut capital gains tax on all investments, but crack-down on corporate tax evasion – estimated to cost the Exchequer some £100bn.

UK investors buying listed shares are the world's most taxed so stamp duty should be abolished. It's a no-brainer for a Conservative government but none has ever been brave enough. This could be Darling's moment to show that Labour really is the party of equitable wealth creation and not just the creature of the very rich.

Chairmen step into the line of fire as shareholders look for scapegoats

To train or not to train? That's the $64,000 question which I predict will soon be rocking the boardrooms of FTSE companies as shareholder anger mounts over the role played by some top chairman during the financial crisis. Investors are finally waking up to the fact that it is the governance of many companies, particularly banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland, which has been as much to blame for their failure as not following the letter of regulation itself.

We shall see some of that anger vented this week when Sir Peter Sutherland, the chairman of BP, comes under pressure from Pirc, which is threatening to vote against his re-election because of his role at RBS. Investors are also threatening the position of Bob Scott, chairman of the troubled Yell group, who was the senior independent director at RBS, while other investors are calling for the head of Marcus Agius, chairman of Barclays for his handling of the bank's fundraising.

This is not just hot air. While there isn't a cat's chance of Sir Peter being voted off the board, Pirc's anger raises a much broader question over the nature of a chairman and his or her relationship with the board. Board structures are a bit like the British constitution: unwritten, flexible and based mainly on common law. But in today's complex, globalised world it may be time for the roles to become more systematic and formalised. Unlike many other professions, chairmen evolve with time and experience into the job. No one teaches you how to run a billion-pound company with thousands of employees all around the world. It could be that boards need to consider some sort of training – or even annual certification – for chairmen in our biggest companies.

The most important thing of all is that a chairman needs to be prepared to fire the chief executive. If he isn't up to that, then he's not up to the job.

Suggested Topics
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Chief Financial Officer

120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker