Good morning world! You’ve just woken up as the most powerful person in Britain. No, not Jamie Oliver – the prime minister. Against all expectations, you’ve managed to win the premiership, despite fierce challenges from Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy. You’ve even edged out Bobby Kilroy-Silk. So, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?
I’d abolish VAT on buildings. And bring in home rule for Scotland.
Andrew Pinkerton, director, Keppie Design
Cancel all PFI schemes.
Stephen Forster, commercial manager, MMP Group
I’d tax energy use, to make us all energy efficient.
Sean Affleck, director, Make Architects
I would ban the construction of Noddy houses, to ensure that we are building homes that are sustainable, energy-efficient and progressive and that create communities – without resorting to pastiche styles in car-centric urban wastelands.
Haydn Thomas, associate, Haverstock Associates
Change the procurement route for PFI to ensure that contractors aren’t funding the bids at risk.
Andy Sturgess, plc board director, Galliford Try
I would do something about the appalling state of food retailing and marketing. We eat so much bad food, and companies pump it out even though it is really unhealthy. We eat it because we do not know the facts and cannot get better alternatives. Yup, school meals is just the start.
Bernard Gray, chief executive of CMP Information, publisher of Building
Implement legislation to convert political advisers into motorway road cones, therefore ensuring more accessible government and roadworks that will be able to eloquently justify their own existence. No job losses and carbon neutral.
Roland Finch, RIBA Enterprises
Get the Houses of Parliament and the local authority to agree on how they are going to turn Downing Street into a sustainable community.
Jo Ridehalgh, PR manager, City & Country Group
Tell my wife not to answer the door in her nightie.
Maria Pilfold, human resources, George Wimpey
Resign – I wouldn’t want the job.
Richard Burge, chief executive, Rural Catalyst
Put my underpants on, probably. Oh, and put an end to facetious questions from journalists.
Simon Dunstan, associate architect, Ryder HKS
Do something useful with the Millennium Dome. It is a disgrace, so one disgrace should solve another: that of the plight of the homeless. There is no reason why any man, woman or child should have to sleep on the streets, beg for money or search through rubbish bins for food – we are not a third-world nation. The dome should be converted into a permanent hostel, fully staffed and paid for by the government.
Peter Maddams, quantity surveyor, Lesley Morris Associates
I’d stop lying. If politicians were more honest with the electorate they might be able to start to engage with them.
Michael Clark, principal director, RHWL Architects
Have a bottle of champagne, knowing me.
Peter Bamford, business development director, Faithful & Gould
I would announce that the UK mainland was to become a tax haven, offering the same services as the Channel Islands. The UK fits the criteria perfectly. We are an independent island, regarded by all economies as steadfast and truly reliable, and we are entrenched in banking services, with an established stock exchange.
This change would lead to an enormous reduction in taxation, with the benefit of huge deposits that would be transferred into the UK from less safe tax havens. Our economy would receive a huge boost and house prices would swell as a result of the increased pressure from investors choosing to become residents. Employment would increase and inward investment would be the strongest on record. The country would enjoy a period of tremendous stability and remarkable wealth – for every individual across the entire UK economy.
Alas, it will not happen, as the true thinkers don’t want to be prime minister.
Shane Martin, UK managing director, Netherton Estates
The first thing I would do if I were prime minister would be to remove income tax. Is he mad? I hear you cry. Read on …
Why do we have three systems of collecting tax – income tax, National Insurance and VAT – and three groups of people doing it? VAT is the perfect tax – it is almost unfiddleable and is collected for the government free of charge by businesses. I would put VAT on everything, including interest on savings and food. Thus, you pay no tax until you spend money.
I would adjust it to bring in the same amount of revenue that the Treasury currently receives. Then you could disband the Inland Revenue and most of the National Insurance department (except claims), saving the country a large fortune. All you’d need is a few extra VAT inspectors.
And that would just be the start. Any businessman could save this country a serious fortune if only governments would listen and have the courage to act without fear or favour. Should the next government want me to set it up, run it and make it work, get them to call me!
David Proudfoot, director, Proudfoot Properties
The first thing, please!
- Compel directors of publicly quoted companies to own a certain number of shares in their own companies (rather than share options). Value would be proportionally related to salary.
- Pass a law stating that the minimum salary in any company should be at least one 20th (perhaps more) of what the highest paid employee gets.
- Reduce the number of administrators in the health service, schools, the BBC and local government and increase the number of nurses and doctors, teachers, programme makers and dustbin collectors in each of these categories.
- Encourage training in plumbing, building and electrical work; discourage media studies.
- Pull troops out of Iraq.
James Chater, editor, KCI Publishing
- Direct all planning departments to grant planning permission within seven days and all planning officers to be chosen for their submissive and amenable personalities.
- Introduce compulsory pensions through property investment.
- Scrap stamp duty.
- Introduce 40% tax relief on all mortgages.
- Abolish capital gains tax.
- Ensure the trains run on time, Mussolini-style.
David Green, operations director, Delph Property Group
The best effort
I’d have a lie-in and contemplate the world – before springing into action and directing my new Cabinet to green the planet, invest in our children, make peace with the world and slash income tax. After breakfast I’d call Gordon and ask if he’s ready to take the job on as we agreed over a pint back in the early days.
Richard Philipson, director, Stride Treglown, who wins a £25 drinks voucher