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Can the hopes of North-East business fit in a little red briefcase?
10:54am Wednesday 20th March 2013 in Business
Today’s Budget represents one of the last opportunities for the Coalition to inject growth into the economy. We asked North-East businesses what they would like to see in George Osborne’s red briefcase.
TONY SLIMMINGS, director at Stockton-based pensions and investments firm WR Financial: “We’d like to see the Chancellor make provision in the Budget for a one per cent reduction in National Insurance to help businesses offset the cost of auto-enrolment.
This would be beneficial to the huge number of firms with between 250 and 349 employees, which must offer all employees a pension by February next year, under Government legislation.”
CRAIG FITZAKERLY, managing director of Fitz Architects, in Sunderland: “We would welcome any incentive or encouragement to build up momentum in the housing market.
“A re-introduction of tax relief on mortgage interest would obviously be of huge benefit to first-time buyers, while another solution could be a Stamp Duty holiday for first-time buyers.
The housing market needs a leg up and these two measures would certainly help.
“There could be more changes to the taxation of property. The mansion tax is a favourite of the Lib Dems, which might mean some homeowners could become more interested in extending and improving their current homes rather than buying a new one.”
PAUL MOORE, managing director of construction and development specialist Southdale Ltd: “The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit recommends that 290,500 homes need to be delivered annually, but economic pressures on the industry mean that only about a third of these are actually being built.
“Not only is this unsustainable for the country’s housing needs, but there are huge benefits to the wider economy from supporting increased construction activity. The farreaching effects would include job creation and a chain reaction boost through the supply chain, which is largely domestic, meaning the overwhelming bulk of the return on this support remains within the UK economy.”
GEORGE RAFFERTY, chief executive of Durham Citybased NOF Energy: “The oil and gas sector is one of the jewels in the UK economy’s crown and deserves to be heralded as such with measures that stimulate further investment.
Mr Osborne should look to support the energy industry supply chain further with polices on tax, reducing red tape and the creation of more skilled workers that will further help companies deliver the innovative products and services required to maximise output from the sector.”
BRYAN BUNN, managing director at Wynyard, engineering design and project management company the Nortech Group: “I hope that the crucial importance of the North Sea oil and gas industry is taken into full account.
The Government needs to consider further tax breaks for the industry that would lead to a further boost in the robustness of the sector. Further investment will have a positive knock-on effect for the region’s supply chains, as well.
STEVE GRANT, managing director of the TTE Technical Training Group, in Middlesbrough: “While the number of apprentices has increased under the coalition, it is now time for the Chancellor to use the Budget to provide resources for specific industries, such as engineering and manufacturing, which add value to the UK economy and keep Britain competitive in the global market.
“Encouraging companies in these sectors to support apprenticeships though tax breaks and funding will bring long-term benefits to our country both in terms of improving levels of employment and enhancing the skills of British companies.”
ROBERT FORRESTER, chief executive of Gateshead-based Vertu Motors Plc: “The rules on vehicle tax discs should remain the same. The Government needs to think again if it is contemplating overhauling the system just because people have bought more fuel efficient cars, resulting in a reduction in this particular revenue stream.
“Buying a new car is big decision for most drivers, and consequently, motorists make a precise calculation on the vehicle and running costs over about a five-year period.
If the rules change during this time, and motorists do not get the financial incentive they expect for running a more environmentally-friendly and fuel efficient car, they are being unfairly penalised.”
JEREMY MIDDLETON, head of investment fund Middleton Enterprises: “To help incentivise investment, which will lead to growth and jobs, the Government should consider introducing a 12-month capital gains tax holiday. This will help to unlock potentially billions of pounds which could be ploughed back into business by encouraging investors to release their cash and look for new opportunities in growing firms which need new capital to further their ambitions.”
JOHN RICHARDS, head of accountants and business advisors RMT: “In recent Budgets, there has been a very welcome focus on encouraging companies to innovate by introducing tax incentives around research and development activity, and we’d very much like to see this trend continue.
“Innovation is one of the key contributors to the UK economy’s recovery from recession, and the North-East is home to dozens of firms making giant strides, especially within the manufacturing and hi-tech sectors.”
JAMES RAMSBOTHAM, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Autumn Statement finally provided something for the region to hang its hat on, with the significant motorway upgrade and extension of capital allowances. We want this Budget to build on that, our employment figures, export performance, and the fact business optimism last year was higher than it has been since the recession began, is a clear demonstration that the North-East is ready for the recovery.”
STEVE ROSS, chairman of insolvency trade body R3 in the North-East and a partner in the restructuring department of the Sunderland office of accountancy firm RSM Tenon: “We believe long-term growth depends as much, if not more, on supporting and rescuing existing businesses as it does on new business start-ups, and that further Government action to support the businesses rescue culture and stop dishonest or fraudulent directors preying on well run businesses is crucial.”
PAUL HARRISON, partner at Tees Valley accountancy firm Waltons Clark Whitehill: “We’d like to see the Chancellor introduce policies to give smaller businesses more confidence.
The vast majority of businesses are smaller firms, and moves to improve access to finance, simplify the tax system and make business rates relief permanent would really encourage the many small and medium sized North-East firms invest and grow as we continue along the road to economic recovery.”
MIKE ODYSSEAS, managing director of Stockton-based technology firm Odyssey Systems: “I would like to see the Government re-think their super-fast broadband roll out, and prioritise the areas with a high concentration of businesses.
Superfast broadband is expensive technology to roll out, and the high speeds only really needed by businesses which need to send large files of information quickly and frequently. Residential areas would be just as well served by ordinary broadband.
“Rather than spend £10bn on a costly and extensive programme, which will see superfast broadband in residential areas, where it is not really needed, the Government should look again at this strategy and spend the money where it is needed and where it will benefit the economy most of all – in ensuring all companies have the technology they need to do business quickly and efficiently.”
More Budget News
- Construction chiefs make their case to Mr Osborne
- Follow the Budget live with analysis from PwC
- Comment: Conjuring some hope