General Election 2015: AA CFO Martin Clarke wants honesty on NHS spending and an end to non-dom tax breaks

 
Martin Clarke
Martin Clarke is chief financial officer at AA

ELECTION COUNTDOWN: 16 DAYS TO GO

Every day until the final week of the election campaign, we ask a business leader to say what policies would entice them to vote for a particular party.

MARTIN CLARKE: CFO, AA

■ Had the courage to admit that throwing money at the NHS is not the solution. The familiar mantra of “more doctors and nurses” has an easy emotive appeal but ignores the need for a radical re-appraisal of how and why the money is spent. An ageing and growing population cannot afford the luxury of open ended state support for a free health service. Tell the electorate the harsh and unpalatable truth and you are at least being honest.
■ Create a proper culture of philanthropy within the UK. The polarisation of wealth means that there are more people with the wherewithal and the desire to fund projects in education and the arts. As the state realises it can no longer afford to do the same it should actively seek to replicate the structures and tax concessions that encourage giving on the scale seen in the US.
■ Can manage to avoid crude, politically motivated policies that have nothing to do with their stated intent. My own Party, Labour, is the worst offender. Why pretend that the “mansion tax’ is a money raising device when we all know it is nothing more than a cynical ploy to punish those who have squandered their “bankers’ bonuses” on visible statements of wealth? If you want to tax wealth – and there are arguments in favour of such a thing - then have the intellectual rigour to find measures which might actually achieve the objective of bolstering the public purse.
■ Get rid of the anomaly presented by wealthy foreigners (and those who are not so foreign) of using their non-dom status to enjoy a different tax regime from the rest of us. It might not raise much money but it is right and fair which is always a good basis for policy. At least the Labour Party seems to have got this one right!
■ Place investment in industry at the top of the business agenda. The next government needs to encourage entrepreneurial endeavour if the UK is to capitalise on its key strengths of scientific and technical knowhow. There is a real opportunity to invest modest amounts of public money alongside commercial and retail sources of funding to create the industries of the future and foster a genuine culture of innovation . A learned article in this month’s Fabian review by Messrs Butler and Clarke explains precisely why this is such a good thing and how to do it.
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