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Live webchat with Vince Cable, Business Secretary, Wednesday 1 May, 1-2pm

(106 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Apr-13 16:25:44

We will be welcoming Business Secretary Vince Cable for a webchat this Wednesday lunchtime, following his aborted webchat last Jan (due to urgent business in the House).

A bit of background: The Rt Hon Vince Cable completed his undergraduate degree at Cambridge and post-graduate doctorate at Glasgow, where he then went on to work in a range of senior economic and foreign policy roles, becoming Shell International's Chief Economist in 1995. He became Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham in 1997 and served in the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet from 1999-2003, and as Shadow Chancellor from 2003-2010. In May 2010 he was appointed Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Minister is looking forward to questions on all topics and especially any on starting a new business, mentoring schemes, reforms for flexible parental leave, and the Government's work on increasing women's representation in UK boardrooms.

We hope you can join us and, as always, do post advance questions here if you're not able to make it on Wednesday.

gazzalw Mon 29-Apr-13 16:51:15

Can we not use the questions we asked last time, Justine? Sure most are still relevant?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Apr-13 17:04:01

gazzalw

Can we not use the questions we asked last time, Justine? Sure most are still relevant?

Yes, absolutely you can but would be grateful if you'd cut and paste yours in if you want to use it, as I don't want to assume they are still of the moment/ the one question people want to ask iyswim.

gazzalw Mon 29-Apr-13 17:37:05

Okay will see if I can locate the original thread! wink!

crochetcircle Mon 29-Apr-13 20:15:54

My honest opinion is that it's not women who need a help up into the Boardroom, it's men who need a bit of help spending more time with their family.

What policies does this government have to support men spending more time with their families?

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Apr-13 20:53:27

gazzalw

Okay will see if I can locate the original thread! wink!

You can find the original thread here smile

BIWI Mon 29-Apr-13 21:50:12

Agree with crochetcircle. What is the Business Secretary going to do to change the view that child care is the role and responsibility of women?

blondieminx Mon 29-Apr-13 22:04:19

As well as reforms for flexible parental leave, can Mr Cable clarify what he and his dept. are doing to get employers to offer flexible working to new as well as existing staff?

There have been endless threads about highly educated, professional women becoming "stuck" on the mummy track - knowing they wouldn't get flex working from the off with a new employer ...so they end up staying in the same position and not progressing/paying more tax via increased earnings.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Mon 29-Apr-13 22:19:32

My dad's shop, that's been in business for 30 years and provided employment to many local people, is dying a long, slow, lingering death as out streets are turning into ghost towns.
What are you going to so to help him and the thousands of others like him?

Blondie minx - Great question and very relevant to my situation. I am a qualified professional (ACA), very specialised in Banking and Finance. I left my City employer (many reasons but discrimination was 1 of them) and 4 years on cannot return part-time to the City. I am starting to retrain for a new career in my late 40's as a single parent (on a very low income) to a child with learning difficulties.

So I would like to ask Mr Cable to clarify what support is really available for those returning to professional work after a career break. Course fees are very high (upto £9k)and financial help to cover these is very limited. The job centre have been unable to offer any help with suitable voluntary placements yet seem dismissive of the partly relevant voluntary work I have found myself.

HoveringKestrel Tue 30-Apr-13 01:07:29

I would ask Mr Cable three things:

1) Would he now, in retrospect, take a different approach to the economy than he did before his party came into the Coalition?

2) Are you embarrassed that Nick Clegg does not have the vocals he deserves in the shadow of David Cameron?

3) Do you agree with Victoria Coren on Question Time that you wouldn't trust George Osbourne to water your plants.

NB. I like Vince Cable. But lately his opinions have been so sugar coated and indirect, he must be getting splinters in his bottom.

SodaStreamy Tue 30-Apr-13 01:56:05

As Business Secretary will you address the problem of 'The Banks'

gazzalw Tue 30-Apr-13 06:12:07

Thanks Helen, you're a star flowers.

gazzalw Tue 30-Apr-13 06:13:01

Hi Vince
It seems to me that there are an awful lot of really skilled/qualified women who have had years out of the workplace due to child-rearing. DW is one such person. Do you not think that the government should be looking at ways of getting these women into the workplace at an equivalent level to where they were before they left to have children? It strikes me that there is an awful lot of under-utilised if not wasted talent not being tapped.
Thanks

NicholasTeakozy Tue 30-Apr-13 07:32:10

As Business Secretary you obviously have to be on the side of business. Does this mean that Mandatory Work Activity is here to stay, seeing as it only helps business, as opposed to helping the unemployed back into work. If MWA was about getting people back into work then it would pay at least National Minimum Wage, which would save the country billions. I can see how this is good for business and how it's awful for the country. I'd love to know how you think.

Given the problems with getting the economy back on track after the global recession, would we be in a better position if our Chancellor was someone with more experience and knowledge of economics? Obviously Mr Cable is a good example of this but so are other members of the Coalition.

YY to HoveringKestrel's question no 2 as well.

madamimadam Tue 30-Apr-13 11:34:33

As blondieminx and veryconfused have asked such great questions about women in work, as a self-employed MNer, I'd like to ask what Mr Cable is going to do about the £4.6bn 'sweetheart' deals done with companies like Vodaphone & Goldman Sachs?

How do companies that big get to decide how much tax they deign to pay the Treasury? If I paid a penny less than I owed, HMRC would take me to the cleaners (and quite rightly so). Do I just need my business to become very successful and then I can decide how much tax I'd like to pay? Or join a self-employed class action & hire corporate lawyers to bulldoze HMRC?

I thought free-market capitalism gave businesses a level playing-field. But through these tax deals and, as NicholasTeacozy points out - MWA, we as taxpayers end up subsidising the profits of these large companies, while smaller ones wither on the vine.

I'd like to know what the Business Secretary is going to do to change this?

<yes, Mr Cable, I am very cross about this angry>

OddSockMonster Tue 30-Apr-13 12:04:12

I'm with blondieminx and veryconfused - I'm chartered, have two degrees and lots of experience but both of us in full-time work simply doesn't work for our family. I'm currently a SAHM.

Is there anything you (or others) can do to convince professional industries (including public sector) that part-time employees can be very valuable assets and very hard-working.

I'm constantly job hunting but advertised jobs I could realistically do alongside decent time with my family are few and far between.

VenetiaLanyon Tue 30-Apr-13 13:25:40

Hi Vince,

Does the government want / need parents to go out to work rather than stay at home with their children, so that higher tax revenues can pay for pensions and other costs associated with an increasingly elderly population?

If this is the case, do you believe that the school educational infrastructure e.g. length of school days and holidays needs to be restructured to support familes which have both parents out at work?

Thanks smile

guineapiglet Tue 30-Apr-13 16:21:54

Dear Mr Cable

We recently attended our child's 'employment evening' at 6th form college. We were all rather underwhelmed at the opportunities being offered to our young people - unless doing some kind of academic/vocational training, (medicine/law/accountancy)the number of institutions/companies offering any kind of recruitment was negligible. No representatives from the public sector,( notably the Police Service who literally seem to be not recruiting AT ALL) limited number of armed forces places / no representatives from local government etc - very worrying.

Would love to know what the Government's mentoring/apprenticeship policies to encourage our young people are, and when we can see some genuine signs that businesses ( including the public sector) will be offering more placements and opportunities for them.

With thanks.

stubbornstains Tue 30-Apr-13 20:47:26

Hello Vince,

I'm a single mum who has started my own business. Although I work 30 hours a week, it has yet to turn a profit, although things are picking up- at least I'm not making a loss any more, and things are slowly but surely growing.

I am, at the moment, able to claim tax credits. However, when I get switched onto Universal Credit (which might be any time between 2014- 2017, apparently, not making it easy to plan for) it seems that the Government will assume that I am earning the equivalent of NMW profit for every hour I work, and deduct that from my UC.

Given that it normally takes some time for a business to turn a profit, how on earth are small kitchen table start ups going to manage? Please don't suggest that the NEA is going to be a solution, as most self-funded small businesses will take more than a year to turn that kind of profit.

Does this government really want to strangle micro enterprise? I might just scrape through- as I said, my business is growing- but for anyone in my position contemplating the same thing in a few years' time, it will be impossible.

Instead, rather than having the partial support of tax credits for some time while their business gets off the ground, they will have little option but to languish on the equivalent of JSA indefinitely, costing the tax payer far more in the long run. They could attempt to get a job, but in a environment of 2.5 million unemployed, 6.5 million underemployed and about half a million job vacancies, with the additional barrier of having to fit a job around childcare, I don't fancy their chances, do you?

I suppose my question is: Have the Government really thought this one through? Really? And, in addition, do you agree with this yourself?

Thanks

Stubborn

JacqueslePeacock Tue 30-Apr-13 20:58:44

Do you think that the huge cuts to UK research council funding are likely to improve the chances that talented students from schools like Millthorpe will be able to do PhDs/post-docs, or are you essentially just pulling up the ladder behind you?

ChildrensStoriesNet Tue 30-Apr-13 21:57:31

Vince, you know the underlying issue for many is Low Pay (less than a living age).

Better pay means a stronger economy, ie: more personal spend = more tax for gov and more profit for business = more employment etc etc.

The simple self funding fix is to move 12% of the top earners income (400K+) down to the bottom 7 million workers, thus giving them a living wage. This goes a long way to fix the economy.

We are all better off as a result, including the top earners who benefit from more profits, it's a Win Win Win.

So why procrastinate?

Rowlers Tue 30-Apr-13 21:59:17

Hello Mr Cable,
I'm pleased you are able to give some time to Mumsnet, thank you.
My question:

An increasing number of highly respected economists are publicly voicing concerns over your government's austerity measures, citing many many examples of other economies which have failed to pull themselves out of recession by using these tactics.
Why is your government sticking blindly to this crippling course of action, when indeed evidence shows an economy such as ours needs to start fuelling its revitalisation, not starving it?

If you are able to give your own, honest opinion and not just the party line, that would be appreciated.

birdofthenorth Tue 30-Apr-13 22:20:19

Are you really comfortable with making basic employee rights optional via the "employee owner contracts" your department are pushing? To me the right not to be discriminated against, the right to request flexible working and the right to be compensated if made redundant are priceless... the £2k in company shares you are suggesting may appeal to some but I am deeply concerned that vulnerable workers will be put in a precarious position, and that your measures have regressed workplace culture making "rights" the niche of unionised troublemakers, not the sensible preserve of ordinary, engaged, committed employees.

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