Pimlico Plumbers has been all over the news recently after placing an advert for four French-speaking plumbers on our website. Although this might not strike you as a hard hitting news story, it gives an insight into the increasing number of French people who have fled to London to escape their extortionate 75% tax rate.
We have noticed a massive surge in call-outs from wealthy French expats in the capital, in fact, calls from French clients have more than doubled since President Francois Hollande introduced his new 'supertax' on salaries above €1m (£825,000).
In the last three months particularly we have noticed a real increase in call-outs from French people, most of them living in Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham. They tend to live in rented properties, and so when our plumbers need to ask how far they can go without speaking to the property's managing agents, there can be a problem in communication.
We can get by with our Russian clients, who are very direct and just say "Do it, do it", but the French seem to be different - they need a plumber who speaks their own language. I thought if we had French-speakers in our work force, it would save a lot of frustration.
We have very intelligent people working for us already, people with degrees and those who speak several languages - we've got staff fluent in Spanish, Italian... but no-one with French!
Apparently the French consulate estimates that up to 400,000 French citizens are currently living in London, so I don't imagine we're going to have any trouble filling the posts, and if demand continues to increase, we may look for more French staff. This is not something to be sniffed at, as bilingual plumbers could earn between £120,000 and £150,000 a year if they are willing to work overtime.
I've put an advert on our website and if we don't have any luck there I'll look in to placing an advertisement in a French newspaper. Another option I'm considering is language training for my call centre operatives and a couple of my plumbers. I had an email from somebody yesterday who suggested this and it's not such a bad idea. You never know, I might even give French lessons a go myself!
It's clear to me that this is definitely to do with the tax - the worse it gets in France, the better it is for our business. The French economy is in freefall because of the socialist president's ridiculous tax hike and increased spending. Its economy is now growing at just 0.1% instead of the forecast 0.8 per cent, leaving the country on the cusp of a triple dip recession. Latest figures show that unemployment in France has surged to 3.2million.
This is direct proof that Labour's proposed 50p tax rate would be suicidal for the British economy. The way the media have reported the '50p top tax rate' sounds cuddly, doesn't it? To working people it's meant to sound insignificant. Its only 50p, you can't even get a crème egg for that. But look at it another way, the policy involves the confiscation of half the profits of successful entrepreneurs. There is the evidence of the failure of high tax policies to raise money through taxation, as top earners seek either to avoid tax or have no incentive to work hard in the first place.
Successful entrepreneurs who look to the UK as a business friendly place to locate and invest will see a tax rate far beyond that in countries like Russia, which has a flat tax rate of only 13% for everybody! Just like we're seeing with France, investors would leave the country and go elsewhere.
So while I'm pleased that France's loss is a gain for Pimlico Plumbers and British businesses, I hope Ed Balls is taking notes. We're still looking to fill the shortage, so if you're a French speaking plumber apply now.