Small firms warned last night that thousands of private-sector jobs would be lost if the Chancellor, George Osborne, presses ahead with deep, immediate cuts in his government-wide spending review tomorrow.
The Federation of Small Businesses attacked the call by leaders of 35 of Britain's biggest companies for the Coalition Government to stick to its tough deficit reduction plans. Their demand was criticised as dangerous by prominent economists.
The 35 businessmen warned against delaying cuts in a letter to the Conservative-supporting Daily Telegraph drawn up by Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next. He has donated £293,250 to the Conservatives since 2006 and was made a Tory peer three weeks after the May election.
Another signatory, Sir Christopher Gent, non-executive chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, has given £113,400 to the Conservative Party since 2003, while Aidan Heavey, chief executive of Tullow Oil, has donated £5,500.
Seventeen of the 35 chairmen or chief executives who signed yesterday's letter were among the businessmen who endorsed a similar round-robin before the May election backing Tory plans to reverse Labour's proposal to raise national insurance contributions by 1 per cent. Mr Osborne later cancelled it for employers but retained it for employees.
Quite a few signatories have also just signed large renegotiated government contracts with Francis Maude. One of them, Aveva, appears to be a supplier for the new aircraft carriers: