London Evening Standard: Roundhouse man has got a manifesto for Britain


Sir Torquil Norman, the man who restored the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm to glory as an arts centre, has more ambitious plans. He has just published a new book, Kick The Tyres: Light The Fires in which he outlines his vision to rejuvenate Britain.

The former JPMorgan banker, who made a fortune with his company Bluebird Toys, argues that the country's recent problems stem from a “dependency culture”. His solution? Less micro-management by Government, simpler taxation and fewer laws, and more freedom for individuals — ideas that look prescient in the era of Lib-Con Government.

Norman is particularly keen to simplify the benefits system, arguing that “52 benefits with contradictory conditions” could be condensed into a single, monthly benefit payment. He also wants to raise the tax threshold further — from the new level of £7,475 to £15,000 over five years.

“The cumulative effect of this measure would be to remove massive disincentives on millions of people to resume their working careers with a consequent huge increase in the national work effort,” he says.

Perhaps the most radical idea is “a system of Community National Service for all unemployed people (initially under the age of 25, but subsequently extended to all age groups) so that the Jobseeker's Allowance and other payments that are paid to people not to work could be discontinued and all provided with full-time (or part-time) jobs working from home on useful local community projects for the appropriate minimum wage”.

Sounds just the sort of blue-sky thinking David Cameron needs.



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By Mary Couzin published in Global Toy News 11 April 2011.

During the London Toy Fair, I attended the brilliant UK Inventor's Dinner and sat next to the most intriguing person - Torquil Norman. He was engaging, entertaining, charming and a proper English gentleman (the latter until he told stories of past inventor dinners and running across table tops to elude the police and such).  read more »

Letter to the Press

Torquil writes to the Financial Times March 2011.  read more »

Article: This welfare web is snuffing out the will to work

Torquil Norman writes in The Sunday Times 8 August 2010.  read more »

London Evening Standard: Roundhouse man has got a manifesto for Britain

Sir Torquil Norman, the man who restored the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm to glory as an arts centre, has more ambitious plans.  read more »