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East Midlands Chamber News

Budget must include plans for post-Brexit Britain

Budget red boxChancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will deliver his 2017 Budget next week.

If no transitional deal is agreed with the EU, he will have only one more in which to make clear his plans for UK plc post-Brexit.

East Midlands Chamber, which will be staging a live-discussion round-table event as Mr Hammond delivers his budget, is hoping to see hints in his speech that Government is considering what life will be like for UK firms outside the EU and will introduce measures to ensure UK plc’s competitiveness post-Brexit.

“One of the perennial complaints of business is the current rates system,” said Chris Hobson, Director of policy at East Midlands Chamber.

“It demands payment before a firm has made a single sale, takes no account of ability to pay and, effectively, punishes firms that improve their premises or invest in plant, which acts as a disincentive to businesses to make improvements.

“Business rates must be based on ability to pay, not the perceived rental value of premises and machinery. We would urge Mr Hammond to address this issue in this Budget to help make UK firms more competitive going forwards, deal or no deal.”

Another frequent complaint of Chamber members is the cumulative impact of Government policy, which brings with it a resource burden that increases the day-to-day costs of doing business, costs often driven by the unintended consequences of policy measures that are introduced, though well-intentioned, without a full appreciation of the realities of implementation.

Examples include the apprenticeship levy, pensions auto-enrolment, insurance premium tax, dividend tax, national living wage, immigration skills charge, making tax digital, changes to national insurance rules and restriction of travel and subsistence costs for small companies.

“The Budget provides an opportunity for Government to demonstrate that it hears the message from business and is taking meaningful steps to reduce the increasing costs that will, ultimately, negatively impact our competitiveness on the global stage,” said Chris.

“Mr Hammond must use this Budget to show the world that UK plc is very definitely open for business, and will remain so, deal or no deal, by properly supporting vital infrastructure projects, not least electrification of the Midland Main Line to Sheffield and beyond,” he added.

The Chamber is also calling on Mr Hammond to recognise the region’s strength in new technologies, manufacturing and driving carbon-reduction initiatives by introducing incentives to drive growth in these sectors.

“This has to be a Budget for growth, and one that gives the strongest showing yet as to what UK plc will look like beyond 29 March 2019,” said Chris.

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