North East businesses have drawn up their wishlists for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Clive Owen

Lee Watson, tax partner at Clive Owen, which has offices in Darlington, Durham, Middlesbrough and York, LLP: "The Budget presents a pivotal opportunity to bolster the UK's business sector. A crucial step would be to adjust income tax thresholds upwards to mitigate fiscal drag.

“Similarly, increasing VAT thresholds would provide much-needed relief for small and medium-sized enterprises, allowing them to invest and expand without the immediate pressure of higher tax burdens.

"Encouraging early retirees back through initiatives like 'returnerships' could significantly alleviate the current skills shortage, injecting experienced talent back into our economy.

“I would also like to see an more resources for HMRC to streamline tax collection and compliance, and modernising Inheritance Tax (IHT) would not only simplify a complex system but also make it more equitable, encouraging more people to invest in the future of their businesses and families."


Steve Hare, CEO of FTSE 100 Sage plc: “The upcoming Spring Budget is an ideal opportunity to introduce measures like tax incentives for investment in digital technology alongside introducing e-invoicing, which could be critical for kick-starting the UK's transformation into a technological powerhouse.”

“Our data tells us that SMBs have been remarkably resilient in the face of recent economic challenges, yet the persistent issue of late payments, affecting over 40% in Q4 2023 alone, underscores the urgent need for smart targeted government interventions.”

Francis Brown

Jamie Brown, CEO of Stockton fabrication engineering company Francis Brown, said: “We need to create more opportunities to attract talent to an industry that is constantly evolving in response to the needs of multiple sectors, including construction, oil and gas and renewables.

“This requires investment in education and training, the creation of a more workable and dynamic apprenticeship programme, and enhanced research and development tax credits.

“Tax incentives or grants for those companies investing in ongoing training and development programmes for their employees will further support the process of upskilling existing staff and attracting new talent by creating additional opportunities for career advancement.”


Dr Arnab Basu MBE, CEO of Sedgefield-based Kromek Group plc: “The Chancellor should take this opportunity to deliver an agenda for growth; the UK economy is at best, stagnant, falling well behind many of our global peers.

"The potential of our innovation and technology sector, exemplified by companies at NETPark, needs to be unleashed through capital gain tax incentives, EIS or by increasing capital inflow to public markets through mechanisms such as increasing pension fund investment in UK companies.”

The Northern Echo: Jeremy Hunt is preparing his plansJeremy Hunt is preparing his plans (Image: PA)

Scott Brothers

Bob Borthwick, a director of recycling specialists Scott Bros, which is based at Haverton Hill, Teesside, said: “As a business at the forefront of expanding the circular economy, I urge the Chancellor to continue to back research and development initiatives in areas related to decarbonisation.

"In the transition to a low carbon economy, further tax breaks and incentives are needed to encourage more businesses to invest in recycling, waste reduction, and developing commercial applications for recycled materials rather than using up the world’s precious natural resources.”

Grant Thornton

Dan Dickinson, Practice Lead for Grant Thornton in Yorkshire and the North East: “The Chancellor kicked off 2024 signalling his desire to cut taxes further, observing at Davos the benefits that low-tax economics bring to growth and the creation of dynamic economies. Whether he can deliver on this ambition will hinge on the final OBR economic and fiscal forecast.

"As this is anticipated to be the last major fiscal event ahead of the General Election, any announcements are expected to be focused on closing the gap in the polls, with business tax cuts coming in second, behind those to reduce the tax burden for individuals."


David Land, chair of University Technical College (UTC) South Durham and trustee at the North East STEM Foundation, said: “Investing in education must be a top priority for the government in the upcoming Spring Budget.

“Our educational infrastructure is woefully inadequate to meet the challenges of the 21st century. One of the major flaws in our system is its adherence to a 'one size fits all' approach, which fails to recognise the diverse needs of students and demands of modern industry.

“Transport links and associated costs deter students from attending UTCs, limiting opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is why I urge Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to allocate more funding to overcome these barriers and ensure that UTCs are accessible to all, regardless of socio-economic status.”