Ahead of Wednesday's Budget, six business leaders say what their sector hopes to see announced.

LEE WATSON, tax director at chartered accountants and business advisors Clive Owen LLP, which has offices in Darlington, Durham and York, said: “There are several measures the Chancellor could take that would support and benefit our business clients.

“I hope that he will confirm the continuance of the £1m allowance for acquiring plant and machinery. This is expected to decrease to £200,000 from next January but keeping the allowance higher would encourage investment.

“I’d also like to see R&D tax relief at least retained, ideally enhanced and Entrepreneurs’ Relief protected.

“Further cuts to business rates to help small and medium enterprises to compete with online businesses would also be significant. It would play a part in levelling the playing field that at the moment favours online trading.

The Northern Echo:

“There have been differing reports on what the Chancellor may do to pension tax relief. An increase in the pensions tapering threshold to encourage more pension savings would be my preferred option. There’s bound to be winners and losers following the Budget, but a Budget for business to boost confidence during the Brexit transition and negotiation period would be most welcome.”

CHRIS MCDONALD, the chief executive of the Teesside-based Materials Processing Institute, which is at the forefront of materials research and innovation for industry, said: “I’m interested to see how the government will use the Budget to keep its pledge of ‘levelling up’ opportunities in regions like the North-East.

The Northern Echo:

“I’m especially keen to see what support will be made available for research and innovation, particularly for foundation industries such as steel, and in tackling major challenges, such as climate change.

“I’m also hoping that the commitment to research and development tax credits will be maintained, particularly with a view to widening the applicability to small and medium sized businesses.

“In the North-East, the level of R&D investment per person is under half that of someone in London. It’s vital to incentivise our businesses to invest in developing new products, services or processes, or enhance existing ways of working to stimulate the region’s economy.”

JONATHAN LAMB, chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, which has more than 300 members throughout the North-East, said: “It is widely predicted that the new Chancellor will abolish Entrepreneurs’ Relief.

“This measure, which allows entrepreneurs to pay a reduced rate of capital gains tax when selling a business, was introduced in 2008 to encourage individuals to invest in start-up and scale-up businesses.

The Northern Echo:

“Should this tax, which has its critics, be abolished, then I would urge the Chancellor to replace it with other incentives that stimulate the creation and growth of business.

“It’s important that the government does whatever it can to support entrepreneurs who play a key role in creating jobs and prosperity here in the North-East.”

KATY PARKINSON, founder and managing director of Middlesbrough-based Lexonik, which specialises in instructing teachers and tutors in delivering literacy training, said: “I hope that the Chancellor will put education in the spotlight during his first budget and ensure the funds are available to schools to provide robust literacy training for all teachers and tutors.

The Northern Echo:

“It is a huge benefit that the new Chancellor is an MP in the North of England, as he will understand that literacy poverty is prevalent in the North-East and Yorkshire, and that it must be given some financial backing and support from the government if it’s going to be addressed.

“He has the chance to make a huge impact and help provide the funding to change millions of children’s lives for the better.”

KARL NENDICK, director and independent financial advisor at Stockton-based Active Chartered Financial Planners, said: “The expectation was that this Budget would be a step away from the cautious Conservative policies that we have seen for the last decade but with the coronavirus issue becoming an ever increasing problem for the UK economy, I would expect the Chancellor would prioritise economic stability first and foremost.

The Northern Echo:

“Additional uncertainty with the Brexit trade negotiations means that the UK economy may come under real pressure in the coming months.

“If rumours are to be believed, the Chancellor was considering raising taxes to help Government spending plans. However, I’d like to see stability in the pension regime, with legislation continuing to provide savers with valuable tax relief benefits and in addition, a reduction in personal taxes to boost the economy rather than an increase.

“Make no mistake, the new chancellor Rishi Sunak has a real challenge on his hands.”

IAN WARDLE, chief executive at Thirteen, which owns and manages just under 34,000 homes across the North-East and North Yorkshire, said: “The Conservative manifesto commitment to continue the Affordable Housing Programme is very much welcomed as this will provide a grant subsidy so that housing associations like Thirteen can continue to build homes for low-cost rent and shared ownership which is a route to home ownership.

The Northern Echo:

"We may get some more detail in the Budget or perhaps for the Comprehensive Spending Review about the level of funding.”