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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.

Evilwater Tue 30-Apr-13 22:21:16

Dear mr cable,
I'm a band 2 healthcare assistant, I'm currently on maternity leave and trying to make the figures for me to go back to work, to be in the black.

The problem I'm facing is childcare, due me working shift patterns the cost of child care is terrible. If I went back to full time working the cost of childcare would be around £850 per month. So I'm £25 in the red to start with.

I am aware of tax credits, and the option of me to go part time, however I am always 20% short. I love my job, and I want to work but I can't feed my child and me on air.

What should I do?
Evil

MotherSouperior Tue 30-Apr-13 23:38:36

Dear Mr Cable,

Thank you for coming on to MN. May I ask why the government doesn't just make childcare tax-deductible? I can't work without it.

Thank you.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 01-May-13 00:23:07

Please can you reassure me there are no plans to cut maternity leave down from the current length of one year?

I am planning baby number 2 and I think that first year with me was absolutely vital to my son's well being and development.

landofsoapandglory Wed 01-May-13 07:43:35

What do you think of the reforms to DLA? It is well documented that the fraud rate is under 1%, so why are the Government making changes that will see around 20% lose their benefit? This will force people out of work, and cause people real hardship by leaving them without transport and care. Lots of people are living in fear over this at the moment.

The Governement should be ashamed of themselves.

OptimisticPessimist Wed 01-May-13 07:55:08

What is the Government doing to tackle the problem of under-employment, especially the rapidly increasing use of zero hour contracts?

purits Wed 01-May-13 09:08:32

My DS is leaving school this summer. The way the world is now, he can only get a decent job if he has a degree so he is forced to go to University i.e. he has to pay out £27,000 to 'buy' himself a job. How bad do you feel about the Lib Dems going back on their promise not to increase tuition fees?
PS don't give me the line that if he is not earning then he doesn't have to pay back. A debt is a debt however you dress it up. My DS is going to start life with a millstone round his neck and a marginal rate of tax of 41%. It stinks.

Crumblemum Wed 01-May-13 09:21:46

Hi Vince, assuming you're a certain age..... have you given back your winter fuel payment? Will you? Are you looking forward to a free tv licence or do you think should be means tested?

Govt. seemed to think it was right to take child benefit (a universal benefit) away from wealthier families, but doesn't seem to think the same about benefits to wealthier pensioners - I just wondered if you could explain this anomaly?

payphone Wed 01-May-13 10:34:35

Hello Mr Cable

What do you think of Ed Miliband? Could you do business with him, given that a Labour/LibDem coalition is a fairly likely outcome at the next General Election?

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 10:38:23

How are the government planning to implement the recommendations in Lord Davies' report? Do you feel they for far enough?

On a personal note, how do you feel about your role as Business Secretary? Do you find it difficult to sit back and watch someone much less qualified attempt to manage the economy?

AlanMoore Wed 01-May-13 10:38:43

I'm going to be cheeky and ask two questions and make one plea...

1. Dr Cable, please can you stop big companies e.g. supermarkets, from employing people on zero hours contracts?

2. It is this kind of unfairness I expected the Lib Dems to tackle - have you been dismayed by how weak the LD influence is in the coalition?

3. Please cross the floor! You could save us smile A proper coalition with you as Chancellor would be ace. I still believe in you, but not the LDs as a party.

eggsandham Wed 01-May-13 10:48:25

Hi Vince. What do you make of all this fighting between the Tories and UKIP this week then? Who's right - Ken Clarke who called them "clowns", or Boris who called Nigel Farage "a rather engaging geezer"?

JeanBillie Wed 01-May-13 10:52:52

Now that you've had some time to reflect on the tuition fees fiasco, do you think your party will ever be able to regain all the trust lost?

Lilymaid Wed 01-May-13 10:55:50

Hello Vince
My son is currently an ODI fellow (as you were ... a few years ago!). Did that experience teach you things that you might not have learnt if your entire career had been in the UK or other highly developed country.
And as a supplementary - what do you think of the MoD's attempts to take part of the DFID budget for provision of "peace-keeping" activities?

BigEmma Wed 01-May-13 11:02:38

Hi Vince,
It seems to me that the Tory party is moving to the right because of their fear of UKIP. Do you agree?

budgens Wed 01-May-13 11:04:19

Thanks for coming to MN.
Some good questions so far, yy especially to the ones about both women and men working flexibly.
I saw a totally scary stat in the newspaper recently (Saturday Telegraph?) which said that recently there has been a 40% drop in the number of part-time university students. This seems gigantic to me. I expect that women are being clobbered harder here as I suspect that they are more likely than men to want to study part-time due to needing to look after their DC? At least, there's thread after thread on MN about people (teachers mostly incidentally!- but that's another thread) trying to decide what to re-train as and trying to get their confidence back to re-enter the workplace after having kids. Also women are more likely than men to be losing their jobs at the moment in the recession/ public sector cutbacks, so we really need to be going to university or college to get new skills so we have a hope in hell of getting a job.
Did you know about this drop and what are you doing about it?

UnsureOfOutcome Wed 01-May-13 11:19:00

Hi Vince, thanks for coming on to talk.

My question: given the endless stream of stories we're seeing on the extent of the deficit/how cash-strapped we are, is it still feasible/reasonable to ring-fence the NHS, schools, pensioner benefits et al? Shouldn't we be looking at making savings in all areas, so that the burden doesn't fall disproportionately on sectors you've deemed cuttable? And is there any way you can meet the targets you've set yourselves WITHOUT removing the ring-fences?

AND ... if the ring-fences were to be lifted, where would you personally look first to make cuts?

LauraPerrins Wed 01-May-13 12:35:14

Dear Mr Cable,

I put the same question to you as I did to the Deputy Primeminister a month ago. Why is the Coalition discriminating against mothers who choose to look after their children themselves. Why does a single-income family on £36,000 pay £9,000 in tax compared to a double-income family who pays £6,500. Why does the tax system ignore caring duties? Do you are about the carers?
Laura Perrins

amazingmummy Wed 01-May-13 12:51:22

Hi Vince,
May I suggest your department reconsiders its HR rules regarding fixed term employees. I lost my job after a year at BIS because the department did not want to give me full employment rights despite the need for my skills and knowledge.
Thanks!

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 12:51:33

Testing testing

alfie2blue Wed 01-May-13 12:55:17

I am one of those 'stay at home mothers' the government seems to dislike so much. Do you think the government has been wise in their choice of language, talking about people who 'want to get on', with the implication that we have taken some easier option? You have turned off many of us stay at home mothers who feel they are doing the right thing for their families and have already suffered financially in giving up a salary to do so. I for one won't be voting for either of you at the next election.

JacqueslePeacock Wed 01-May-13 12:55:26

Can I also ask what you hope to gain from doing a Mumsnet webchat? Without meaning to be at all rude - your time is precious, so what are you doing here?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 01-May-13 13:02:47

Vince is in the building and will be off shortly.

marking my place

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:04:17

Hello,

This is my second outing on Mumsnet, although I've also done Gransnet - my age group - and I look forward to hearing your questions.

Vince

How high is too higher price to pay for trying to change the culture of Afghanistan?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:05:45

JacqueslePeacock

Can I also ask what you hope to gain from doing a Mumsnet webchat? Without meaning to be at all rude - your time is precious, so what are you doing here?

I get to chat directly with an important group of people. The problem with my job - as with any Minister - is that unless I go out of my way, I'm in a bubble of Whitehall and Westminster.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:08:02

alfie2blue

I am one of those 'stay at home mothers' the government seems to dislike so much. Do you think the government has been wise in their choice of language, talking about people who 'want to get on', with the implication that we have taken some easier option? You have turned off many of us stay at home mothers who feel they are doing the right thing for their families and have already suffered financially in giving up a salary to do so. I for one won't be voting for either of you at the next election.

I certainly don't share the prejudice against stay at home mums. I have married two. My late wife was an extremely talented historian with a PHD and a professional pianist who made a conscious decision to stay at home and work part time so she could spend more time with our children. It was difficult for her. Lots of frustrations, but she felt this was the right thing to do, and I tried to support her with childcare as best I could.

CrazyAlien06 Wed 01-May-13 13:08:59

Hi Mr Cable,

Please excuse the rambling post but I am busy playing with my beautiful 19 month old daughter smile

I am wondering why the government doesnt think about helping out mothers who choose to stay at home to raise their child rather than putting them into the care of strangers.
It has been proven through various studies that children benefit a huge amount from being with their mothers for the beginning part of their lives.

The government seem so obsessed with getting women to go back to work and giving them help in putting their children into the care of strangers.

A child being with their mother is one of the most important time in their lives .

Also why do so many people/ institutions look down their noses at stay at home mums? It's not about cake and chatting its about giving our children the best start in life and ensuring they feel secure , safe and grow up confident little people. Personally i have no idea Why people have a child for someone else to bring up.?
So lets remember the millions of mothers out there who simply chose to have a child as they wanted to raise them and not so that they can rake in all the benefits and incentives given to them.

Must dash! Swimming/cooking/reading awaits my daughters fun filled afternoon smile

BoffinMum Wed 01-May-13 13:10:01

Vince, what should we do as parents to make sure the next generation don't make as much of a hash of managing the economy?

LauraPerrins Wed 01-May-13 13:10:21

So do you condemn the PM remarks that implied SAHM are not hard-working?
Why don't you support SAHM in the Tax system?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:10:27

eggsandham

Hi Vince. What do you make of all this fighting between the Tories and UKIP this week then? Who's right - Ken Clarke who called them "clowns", or Boris who called Nigel Farage "a rather engaging geezer"?

I've debated with Nigel Farage a couple of times and also found him quite an engaging geezer. UKIP are a new phenomenon. They seem very light on serious policy but the best way to expose that is to engage them in serious debate rather than throw abuse at them.

One of the bigger risks for British politics is that the Tories chase after them and indulge some of the prejudices which UKIP express, but my party will remain very firmly on the middle and moderate progressive ground.

JacqueslePeacock Wed 01-May-13 13:13:48

Thank you for the answer. I suppose I meant more, why do you consider Mumsnetters an important group of people? -

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:14:32

payphone

Hello Mr Cable

What do you think of Ed Miliband? Could you do business with him, given that a Labour/LibDem coalition is a fairly likely outcome at the next General Election?

I've met him a few times but not as often as the right-wing press thinks. He's intelligent, affable and a good listener. After the next election, I and my party would be perfectly happy to do business with him but I'm equally willing to work with the Conservatives as we are doing at present, in the national interest.

We will fight the next election as an independent party equidistant between the other two and willing to work with either if the circumstances require.

Hippymama Wed 01-May-13 13:15:44

Hello Vince,

I would like to know why this government is not doing more to support families who choose to have one parent (usually mums, but not always) staying at home to look after their child(ren) rather than paying out the equivalent of a fill time wage to put them in nursery (as my family would do if my son went to nursery)?

I would also like to know what the government is doing to help support small businesses such as myself, working at home from my kitchen table? I chose to set up my own business to enable me to be at home as much as possible with my son, but with the advent of universal credit this option would be impossible for me if I had chosen to do it in two or three years time. This government is stifling small businesses sad

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:16:47

WouldBeHarrietVane

Please can you reassure me there are no plans to cut maternity leave down from the current length of one year?

I am planning baby number 2 and I think that first year with me was absolutely vital to my son's well being and development.

Hello and thanks for getting in touch. No there are no plans to cut maternity leave. One change you might have heard about - which is not cutting maternity leave - is the introduction of shared paternal leave and pay. This will mean couples can choose how they share care for their kids for the first 12 months.

Tiptoes28 Wed 01-May-13 13:17:38

What would you say to someone like me who voted Lib Dem in the last election - but who feels completely betrayed by the Lib Dems complicity in Welfare Reform, NHS Reform etc to the point of being ashamed of having voted for you?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:20:27

pickledginger

How are the government planning to implement the recommendations in Lord Davies' report? Do you feel they for far enough?

On a personal note, how do you feel about your role as Business Secretary? Do you find it difficult to sit back and watch someone much less qualified attempt to manage the economy?

We're making a lot of progress on implementing the recommendations for significantly higher levels of female representation on company boards. The numbers are better and we're on track to meet the 25% target by 2015. I'm chasing up companies which have women-free boards and had a leading mining company chief executive in my office just this week, answering my questions as to why they hadn't made more progress. There are genuine issues about long-term executive pipelines for women which we're tackling through shared parental leave, amongst other policies.

On your second point, the job is tough and high-pressured but I feel I'm achieving a lot through our industrial strategy, establishing the green investment bank and the business bank, re-launching apprenticeships on a large scale and with a variety of initiatives to support start-up companies and other small businesses. My relations with the Chancellor are perfectly business-like and amicable.

iseenodust Wed 01-May-13 13:20:46

It is my perception that at the moment the economic/employment gap between north/south is widening. What have you got in the pipeline to give us hope that things will get better for all?

ps You always come across as rational and well-informed on Question Time, unlike some who seem only to be there to point score.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:24:53

Crumblemum

Hi Vince, assuming you're a certain age..... have you given back your winter fuel payment? Will you? Are you looking forward to a free tv licence or do you think should be means tested?

Govt. seemed to think it was right to take child benefit (a universal benefit) away from wealthier families, but doesn't seem to think the same about benefits to wealthier pensioners - I just wondered if you could explain this anomaly?

hi Crumblemum. Yes, I give my winter fuel payment to SPEAR, a local Twickenham charity that supports homeless people. It's my 70th birthday next week so I won't be getting a free TV licence for a while. I think it would be too complicated to introduce means testing for these relatively small benefits. It would be much more sensible to ensure wealthy pensioners pay tax on any benefits they receive like people in work.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:26:49

blondieminx

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.

One of the big advances in the last ten years has been the right to request parental leave and I strongly supported Patricia Hewitt when she introduced this under the last government. I'm now planning to make this entitlement apply to all employees, existing and new staff, and in a simple, non-bureaucratic way. In addition we're bringing in a system of shared parental leave so that childcare responsibilities can be equally balanced between men and women in the first year of the baby's life. These reforms will hopefully end the traditional assumption that women have an obligation to stay at home in deference to their male partner.

ChildrensStoriesNet Wed 01-May-13 13:27:42

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?

nanamac Wed 01-May-13 13:29:35

As a committee member of Mothers at Home Matter I would like to know what this Government is doing to give all families a genuine choice whether to look after their babies and children themselves or do a paid job? Many mothers want help to spend more time with their children, not less.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:30:54

HoveringKestrel

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.

In opposition, I warned repeatedly that we were heading to a major financial meltdown and that any new government under whatever party would face very painful cuts in expenditure. Given where we now are, we have to balance the risks of creating a lack of confidence in the government's ability to manage its finances with the risks of continuing stagnation. I recently argued in the New Statesman that the balance of risks may well be changing so that the latter is the bigger problem.

We need to remember that the Liberal Democrats have one in six MPs within the Coalition and roughly the same number of ministers. We more than punch above our weight and if you read right-wing newspapers you get the impression that we really run the government...

I'm not sure I'd trust myself to water my own plants!

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:34:18

amazingmummy

Hi Vince,
May I suggest your department reconsiders its HR rules regarding fixed term employees. I lost my job after a year at BIS because the department did not want to give me full employment rights despite the need for my skills and knowledge.
Thanks!

Hi amazingmummy,

I'm sorry you felt badly dealt with by my department. I don't have the full facts to help answer your question, but I am concerned that you left my department feeling that you had not been properly dealt with, and will ensure that the department follows this up if you send me your details.

superkat Wed 01-May-13 13:34:27

Do you think that going after welfare rather then tax evasion is the right move financially and in terms of morals?

I find the government's otherisation of people within the welfare system completely abhorrent.

noddyholder Wed 01-May-13 13:35:21

I just want to say you have an amazing voice in fact you give Mr Attenborough a run for his money! smile

Rowlers Wed 01-May-13 13:36:48

Happy 70th birthday next week, Mr Cable!

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:39:26

ChildrensStoriesNet

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?

I announced an increase in the minimum wage last month, and the Government, at the instigation of my party, has introduced a higher threshold for paying income tax, which is now approaching £10,000 per year. Obviously I would like to see better pay and more purchasing power in the working population but we have to be realistic about what is feasible without damaging job prospects. On balance, workers prefer employment to higher pay if that is the choice. As regards the proposals for redistributing income, I support the principle but I don't think your arithmetic would work. It is almost certainly more practical and economically more sensible to tax high-value property - the so-called 'mansion tax' - than have very high rates of income tax.

AlanMoore Wed 01-May-13 13:40:00

You would make a miles better PM than Nick or Ed or Dave. Why are we so ageist? What's wrong with a bit of gravitas?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:40:32

Rowlers

Happy 70th birthday next week, Mr Cable!

Thank you - I was hoping to keep quiet about it but the secret's got out!

Emsmaman Wed 01-May-13 13:42:12

Thanks for taking the time to join us.

Would you agree that more regulation is needed for childcare fees in order to get more people working - e.g. I am in your neck of the woods (SW London) where nursery fees for under 2's can be as much as £90 per day. In other parts of Surrey, nursery fees can be as much as half this cost. I feel I have been severely limited in job hunting in London as I need to earn at least enough to cover childcare + transport costs. Many of my well educated and experienced mum friends have given up work after maternity leave as they don't see it as profitable to work. I think there should be a formula dictating a maximum charge for childcare (a blanket max would be unfair I think due to vastly different rents).

Many thanks

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:43:12

UnsureOfOutcome

Hi Vince, thanks for coming on to talk.

My question: given the endless stream of stories we're seeing on the extent of the deficit/how cash-strapped we are, is it still feasible/reasonable to ring-fence the NHS, schools, pensioner benefits et al? Shouldn't we be looking at making savings in all areas, so that the burden doesn't fall disproportionately on sectors you've deemed cuttable? And is there any way you can meet the targets you've set yourselves WITHOUT removing the ring-fences?

AND ... if the ring-fences were to be lifted, where would you personally look first to make cuts?

In opposition, I argued against ring-fencing but the Coalition agreement took a different approach and I am having to work within that framework. I am very clear that if the country is to progress, we will need a lot more investment in science and innovation, skills and higher education. This approach will frame my approach to negotiating my department's budget in relation to the deficit.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:46:44

JeanBillie

Now that you've had some time to reflect on the tuition fees fiasco, do you think your party will ever be able to regain all the trust lost?

Hi JeanBillie,
I fully accept that a lot of trust was lost as a result of making the pledge on tuition fees which we couldn't honour in practice. It's often forgotten that the Labour Party twice made a similar pledge and didn't honour it.

The system which we have introduced does not involve any payment of fees upfront and is in effect a system of graduate taxation in which repayments are linked to people's ability to pay after graduation, once they are earning £21,000. This is fairer than the earlier system and ensures that universities are properly funded for the long-term. We now have experience of two years of applications by students and it is clear that young people fully understand the new system and those from disadvantaged backgrounds have not been deterred.

meglet Wed 01-May-13 13:47:08

Dear Mr Cable,

Will improving parental leave extend to pushing for flexi-time for all employees? As a single parent I only have the right to unpaid parental leave until my daugter is 5 in the autumn. Why can't the right to 4 weeks unpaid leave be extended until the youngest is 16?

What would really help me is to be able to work flexi-time, but comapnies that offer this seem to be as rare as hens teeth. Will you consider pushing for more employers to reintroduce flexi-time as it would help cover doctorsd appointments, school shows etc.

And finally, I understand the government plans to make single parentd work full time once their youngests is 13? If this is true have you not considered the difficulties this will bring to many single parent households? I intend to work part-time until my children are off to Uni as I am there to support them academically, emotionally and practically. My single parent mother had to work full time when me and my sister were teenagers and the damage it did to all of us was immense (school bullying, self harm, homework not getting done etc). While I am already showing my 6 and 4yo children how to do laundry, make food and prepare them for adult life I am not going to flounce out to full time work while they are at their most vulnerable.

Apologies for any typos, am walking home from the supermarket!

dickdotcom Wed 01-May-13 13:47:59

Can I echo what @crochetcircle said above about help for men spending more time with their families. I'm married to an extremely capable woman with incredibly useful skills and in many ways it would make sense for me to go part-time - yet my organisation seems very wary of supporting this ... surely we should end the long hours culture and support part-time working for everyone's benefit?

Mum2twoGirls Wed 01-May-13 13:49:11

Thank you for your time Mr Cable. I am a SAHM (Stay at home mum and a graduate) to two daughters, the youngest is 18 months. I am a very disillusioned LD voter who questions why the coalition government discrimates in the tax system against family's where one parents chooses to stay at home with their children versus the dual earner parents who place their children into childcare. Please can the government think carefully about long term health of society and not short term financial bottom line.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:49:11

AlanMoore

You would make a miles better PM than Nick or Ed or Dave. Why are we so ageist? What's wrong with a bit of gravitas?

I will pocket the complement but will not rise to the bait! I've still got bags of energy and good health, and I will continue with my very high-pressured job as long as I can do full justice to it. But you're right - there is a lot of ageism around and I hope we can get to a stage when people are genuinely judged on their merits, not their age, their gender or their colour.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:51:27

VenetiaLanyon

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

The government doesn't have a view on whether or not both parents should work. I consider it a perfectly valid option for one parent, man or woman, to stay at home to help bring up children. That said, you make a good point about the need for school infrastructure to be flexible though we need to remember that there are very different needs in the parent population and that school teachers deserve a break too.

SacreBlue Wed 01-May-13 13:54:39

Hello Mr Cable,

I attended the business start up programme as part of the return to work help. I found the course useful, though financial help was no longer part of it, but what I found very heavy going was the amount of paperwork created by the course on one hand and other agencies dealing with benefits, on the other.

For example I had to complete income sheets for IS, for HB in a completely different format, and again, in a third format for the course.

Even now I need to complete my tax returns like everyone else, but the format for WTC is different and I still have a third, for HB - could these not be streamlined into the same format as the regular tax return?

Could your department work more closely with benefit agencies to smooth the transition from benefits to self employment by reducing duplicated paperwork?

Thank you

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:54:58

JacqueslePeacock

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?

Hi JacqueslePeacock,
It looks as if we were at the same school but it was called Nunthorpe when I was there. There haven't been huge cuts to research funding. In fact, the research budget was protected. The research councils are independent and we don't tell them how to allocate the funding. I do recognise that there is an issue with post-grad funding though we have made some initiatives as with engineering and I am working with my colleague David Willetts to find a solution recognising that we are in a cash-strapped environment.

edam Wed 01-May-13 13:56:36

Hi

Do you want to privatize the NHS? Does your party want to privatize the NHS? If not, why did you allow the competition regulations to be pushed through last week, meaning all NHS services have to be offered to any qualified provider - i.e. large companies, given they are the only ones who have the expertise and can afford the costs of tendering?

Do you feel guilty that you took part in making the Health Bill law, even though it wasn't in either the Tory or Lib Dem manifesto and the Tories specifically promised 'no top down reorganisation of the NHS'?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:58:50

SodaStreamy

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

I spend a lot of my time trying to answer this problem. Let's remember that Britain had some of the biggest banks in the world, and we had a banking collapse with a severity not seen since the beginning of the 19th century. We are clearing up the mess. Banks have been made safer and I have been working with the Chancellor to split the big banks as between so-called casino operations and retail banking through ring-fencing. There is still a serious problem funding small-medium sized business and I am currently setting up a business bank to help plug the gap and support new banks, filling this gap. It will take a long time to produce a better system of banking with competition and good relationship management but we are heading in the right direction.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 14:03:40

LauraPerrins

Dear Mr Cable,

I put the same question to you as I did to the Deputy Primeminister a month ago. Why is the Coalition discriminating against mothers who choose to look after their children themselves. Why does a single-income family on £36,000 pay £9,000 in tax compared to a double-income family who pays £6,500. Why does the tax system ignore caring duties? Do you are about the carers?
Laura Perrins

I've already replied to several SAHMs, making it clear that I have nothing but respect for their role. However, there is the issue of cash. The problem you describe dates back several decades to the point where it was decided to tax people as individuals rather than families. It used to be possible for families to swap tax allowances but in a world where most families have two earners, this created serious anomalies of its own. The current unfairness is party offset by tax credits but I recognise the grievance you describe. I don't think there is an easy solution, or we would have found it.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 14:07:19

edam

Hi

Do you want to privatize the NHS? Does your party want to privatize the NHS? If not, why did you allow the competition regulations to be pushed through last week, meaning all NHS services have to be offered to any qualified provider - i.e. large companies, given they are the only ones who have the expertise and can afford the costs of tendering?

Do you feel guilty that you took part in making the Health Bill law, even though it wasn't in either the Tory or Lib Dem manifesto and the Tories specifically promised 'no top down reorganisation of the NHS'?

Hi edam,
The answers are 'no' and 'no'. The NHS remains free at the point of use, as a public service. Bringing in private providers occurred under the last government and has long been a feature of the NHS. GPs are after all private, not public servants. I certainly don't want to see big companies dominating the supply of services as against existing NHS operations and mutuals and there is no reason why that should happen if commissioning bodies are strategic in the way they deal with tendering.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 14:09:16

There were enough questions to keep me busy for several hours! Sorry if I haven't got to yours but I tried to deal with the main categories of questions. I have to head off now. Thank you for all your questions.

Vince

flowers

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Wed 01-May-13 14:12:32

he didn't answer my question about the death of the high street.

What a pity.

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 14:38:35

I never doubted that they were. I would just feel happier with someone who knew what they were doing in number 11, even if I might disagree with them on some issues.

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 14:44:01

It would be helpful to see the number of unique individuals when looking at the makeup of boards. It's far from unusual for one person to sit on several boards and it would be a shame if the move to encourage more women in boardrooms simply led to more work for the same handful of women.

edam Wed 01-May-13 14:54:17

I'm glad he came along but blimey, the effrontery of politicians who say one thing while doing precisely the opposite - flat denials re privatising the NHS, while passing laws and restructuring the organisation to carve it up for the private sector...

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 14:58:35

Hospitals can only earn up to 49% of their income from private work now though, so there's still 1.0000000001% to go wink

He's the only one in the coalition with any capability or integrity as far as I can see. He's still a politician though grin

edam Wed 01-May-13 15:10:45

That's so reassuring, ginger... not!

Hmm re integrity, really? His analysis of the financial crisis looked jolly good in opposition, he's not been that impressive in govt. and has made himself look a bit daft several times (e.g. telling a journalist he was out to get Murdoch, when he was supposed to be ruling on the BSKyB takeover and was required to be neutral...)

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 16:16:15

He was honest about it though grin

And don't pretend you aren't thrilled by the idea of your local hospital losing it's maternity wing but gaining a laser hair removal clinic. Happy, hairless days ahead.

AlanMoore Wed 01-May-13 18:25:22

I still like him, I thought he came across well. He actually answers the question which is fairly unique for politicians smile

YoniOno Wed 01-May-13 20:36:29

No answers for SAHMs regarding fair taxation either.

blondieminx Wed 01-May-13 21:00:10

He missed the point of my question too - parents want flexible working contracts - periods of leave, and shared paternity leave in the first twelve months is NOT the same thing. Pah!

Corygal Wed 01-May-13 21:57:10

I worship Vince. I dealt with him at work and he is entirely splendiferous. Both twinkly and smily most of the time, but flashes of indignation when decency requires. And he works like a dog.

edam Wed 01-May-13 22:46:24

That's nice. Shame he's lending his support to such appalling policies, though. Why is a twinkly nice man supporting a government that bullies benefits advisors into tricking learning disabled people out of their benefits, for instance?

HoveringKestrel Thu 02-May-13 00:28:02

I've got to admit I thoroughly enjoyed this thread and am overjoyed he answered my questions.

I wish he was my local MP.

YoniOno Thu 02-May-13 12:18:49

Seriously, saying 'this government doesn't have an opinion on whether mothers return to work' is totally disingenuous - I don't see me being given financial help to look after my son, whereas if I went back to work I would get financial help. Clearly the government wants women back in the workplace ASAP, being good little capitalists and paying taxes, and paying someone else to look after their children.

I do totally fancy him but that's besides the point

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 13:00:10

The Telegraph seem to have used this. I suppose it's good that they're back to current events after their extended hagiography of Thatcher. And they're still finding the time to maintain royal bump watch.

I've just found this. Think Cable's great, and "My relations with the Chancellor are perfectly business-like and amicable" keeps making me chuckle.

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