11. (10) Robert Edmiston £630m (£630m)
Robert Edmiston believes that things are difficult enough for small businesses, without the ever growing burden of red tape and regulation dragging them down.
He is a strong believer in the light touch of regulation and says the current regulatory burden of employment and health and safety issues is strangling entrepreneurship.
His own business – the IM Group – continues to do well with both its car import business and property interests performing well and profitably, with the value of the business rising to more than half a billion pounds.
The IM Group, previously based in West Bromwich but now in a purpose-built headquarters in Coleshill, imports Subarus, Isuzus and Daihatsus. Business has been boosted by the new Subaru Impreza STi and the world’s first diesel boxer engine for passenger vehicles. The group is increasingly active abroad with franchises in Ireland, the Baltic States and Scandinavia, and a trading house in China.
Sixty-two year-old Robert Edmiston is one of the country’s leading philanthropists, through his Christian Vision organisation. He has publicly stated that he aims to give at least £300 million to charity before he dies.
Robert Edmiston is a committed and active Christian and founded Christian Vision in 1988. This charity – founded on biblical principles - has helped families and children around the globe, and has a presence in the United States, Brazil, Chile, Zambia, Mozambique, Australia, East Timor and Angola, among others.
In addition the former accountant has spent £2 million of his own money towards the £28 million re-build of Whitesmore School in Chelmsley Wood, renamed the Grace Academy to reflect his Christian beliefs. Teaching is based on Christian principles, encouraging decency, respect and compassion.
He is a creationist and has poured scorn on Darwinism in the past, famously saying: “If you tell people they are descended from monkeys how can you expect them to behave other than like monkeys?” He also banned J.K. Rowling books from the classroom, claiming that Harry Potter is about witchcraft and sorcery which should not be taught at school.