According to a survey of leading UK executives in the October 25th The Times article "Investment being driven abroad by tax and skill worries,says CBI" (link unavailable),the UK has lost international competitiveness in the past decade. In a chart showing "percent balance" scores on competitive factors,most scores were negative,with the worst declines as eyeballed roughly being:
1)Personal taxation levels (-85%)
2)Nature/level of regulation (-65%)
3)Business taxation levels (-50%)
4)Availability of land/planning restrictions (-32%)
5)Ability to attract internationally mobile key staff (-20%)
Scores for some remaining measures were:
2a)Availability of trained/skilled workforce (-10%)
How does Ireland compare? Our personal tax levels may be worse than the UK's when the government completes its frenzy of tax increases in all of Lenihan's budgets,so I score it (-100%) for 1).
Regulation in the UK seems to be a lot more PC than here. But we have our share of regulatory bogs as shown in 18 separate pieces of legislation on labour law,vast numbers of regulations and laws on restaurants and meddlesome minimum wage laws across many industrial sectors. Score (-20%) on 2).
Business taxation is our strongest competitive card,although Eastern Europe is copying our tax friendly ways. Score +70% on 3).
Availability of land has improved thanks to the economic depression and hopefully with more time on their hands,planners will be able to cut the 10 year timetable for getting a commercial project shovel ready in the Celtic Tiger days. Score +50% for 4).
On infrastructure,completion of a large motorways networks,improvement in rail services,a belated catch-up in broadband and increased airline connections have more than offset the disastrous deterioration in the banking system's utility functions and lending capacity. Score +50% on 1a).
Ability to attract internationally mobile staff has declined due to increases in personal taxation but may benefit from the stupid Draconian limits on non-EU immigration imposed by the UK Tories,limits that apply even to top scientists. Score (-15%) on 2a).
Despite huge investment,Availability of trained/skilled workforce in the UK has been hampered by too many schemes.This sounds like FAS's habit of running courses in every political constituency. Still,Ireland's economic depression has made a huge pool of skills available,so score +70% on 2a) as it's an ill wind that blows nobody good. Our score would be better if we could persuade Irish youth to learn European languages. Then a company like Google wouldn't have to hire 70% of its workforce from abroad.
In summary,Ireland's changes in competitiveness compare well with the UK's,except for the increasing personal tax burden which is largely thanks to the Croke Park agreement to maintain overpaid public sector pay and gold plated pensions.