THE North East England Chamber of Commerce has already set out the region’s Budget wish list, including rail investment, the establishment of the long-awaited UK Shared Prosperity Fund based on regional economic need and incentivisation of investment in low-carbon housing and retrofitting.

Its new Chief Executive John McCabe saying: “Levelling up is a long-term project that will not be resolved through one Budget. However, the decisions and investments the Government makes will be judged by how effective they are in moving the country towards a fairer, more balanced economy.”

But what do other business leaders think are the key areas for their sectors?

Rosemary Du Rose, Chief Executive of Beyond Housing: “As we emerge from the pandemic, it is vital that the government refocuses on emerging and pre-covid priorities.

“Levelling-up should take centre stage in the Chancellor’s statement on Wednesday, with acknowledgement needed that tackling inequalities in health and education, alongside economic growth, are fundamental to success.

“The last Budgetary announcement before COP26 will give the clearest indication yet of how serious we are, as a country, about addressing the climate emergency. Some further clarity of last week’s green initiative announcements, explaining how we all, business and household alike, can access the resources we need to decarbonise our housing stock.”

Read more: Budget 2021: Everything we know so far

Martin Anderson, chief executive of Lemon Business Solutions: “As a socially conscious employer in the Tees Valley, I am particularly keen to see the Chancellor address the current National Living Wage rate and increase it closer to the Real Living Wage rate of 9.50 per hour across the UK. I would also like to see the scrapping of the age brackets, so a fair and equal wage is paid to everyone over the age of 18.

“I am particularly excited about the prospect of further investment in our local infrastructure, as part of the government’s levelling up agenda, so that people living and working in the Tees Valley have access to the same transport that their peers do in the southeast, creating opportunity and prosperity for all in our region.”

Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses: “The Treasury must play its part to secure wage increases – the taxman will gain almost £500 for every worker whose pay increases to £9.50 an hour. Larger than expected increases in the Living Wage must be matched by support for those who will struggle to afford to maintain jobs – these are the smallest employers, up and down the country, who need to see the extension of the small business Employment Allowance, which covers the first £4,000 of Employer NICs.

"Across the board, costs for small businesses are on rise, from energy bills, input and recruitment costs as well as taxes and shipping – small firms are well and truly under the cosh. The Government pledged to cut the burden of business rates and we need to hear this loud and clear in the Budget."

Elizabeth Armstrong, managing director of Latimer Hinks Solicitors: “There have been rumours for some time about the Chancellor ‘simplifying’ rules on the already unpopular Inheritance Tax. Relatively simple tweaks to the rules without necessarily altering the underlying tax rate have the potential to increase the government’s income significantly.

“Despite speculation about bringing Capital Gains Tax in line with income tax rates, this now seems less likely as it wouldn’t generate the kind of levels of tax that the government needs to raise.

“In light of substantial increases to Corporation Tax in 2023, I hope that the government will offer more incentives to help businesses grow such as the super deduction announced in March.”

Lee Watson, tax partner Clive Owen LLP: “I wouldn’t rule out future tax rises as this must still be a possibility.

However, it’s likely that they will be introduced in a staged manner given the pressures already being faced by businesses post pandemic. An option might be freezing some allowances at a time of rising inflation.

“The review and consultation into improving the UK’s R&D tax reliefs could result in enhancements to R&D reliefs – possibly with elevated rates of relief – which I’m sure would be well received.

“The Chancellor has also promised to publish the final findings of the Government’s Business Rates Review this autumn after the final report was delayed by the pandemic, but even if it does happen, I don’t realistically expect any change. Business Rates look set for now, but the Government is trying to improve the way the tax works so is likely to announce a consultation on technical changes at some point.

Chris McDonald, of the Middlesbrough-based Materials Processing Institute, said: “I’d like to see measures in the Budget that will further hasten the adoption of renewable power, including wind and nuclear.

“While investment in research and innovation continues to rise, the government must continue to build upon this to underpin the transformational work already underway to help it meet its commitment to net zero by 2050. Part of this transformation needs to be an immediate commitment to investing in clean steel technology.

“Many industries continue to operate legacy systems and will need help to adopt the new technologies necessary to secure the future economic and manufacturing independence of this country.

“I would also welcome any increase to the National Living Wage that improve social inclusion and increases worker morale and health.”


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