Budget 2016: Full BCC reaction

17th March 2016

Giving his full reaction to the Budget, Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Acting Director General, said:

“Business wanted a steady, workmanlike Budget, and that’s what we got. The Chancellor listened to our calls to avoid higher business taxes and costs – and indeed moved to lower them in a number of areas. He has finally taken real action to lessen the crushing burden of business rates, and sharpened incentives for entrepreneurship and investment.

“While his commitments to key business infrastructure projects are positive, the Chancellor must ensure that they move from the drawing board to speedy construction on the ground. In a softening economy, the combination of sustained infrastructure investment and lower business taxes is important to maintaining the confidence of firms across the country.”

On business rates:

“Businesses will cheer measures to cut the burden of business rates, which hundreds of thousands of firms have to pay before they even turn over a single pound.

“More frequent revaluations will be welcomed, too, but only if a simpler system with fewer valuation errors can be delivered. We would also have liked to see plant and machinery investments excluded from business rates calculations, so we will be pressing for further action on this and other aspects of the system that discourage investment.

“All in all, the rates reforms are a significant step in the right direction, and we will work closely with the government to ensure that they result in real improvements for long-suffering businesses on the ground.”

On the Business Tax Roadmap, Corporation Tax, and Capital Gains Tax:

“The Business Tax Roadmap will help provide a greater degree of certainty as businesses look to plan for the future. Ultimately, the acid test for the roadmap will be whether it makes it easier for businesses to navigate the UK’s complex tax system.

“Cuts to corporation tax and capital gains tax show that the UK is very much open for business. The reduction in capital gains tax in particular will help to encourage entrepreneurial risk-taking in some of our most dynamic young firms.”

On additional investment in HMRC services:

“While businesses continue to express serious reservations about the quality of service provided by HMRC, the additional investment to make it quicker and easier for business people to deal with the Revenue is welcome. We will press for this investment to be geared towards supporting small and medium-sized businesses and making compliance easier.”

On fuel duty:

“We were expecting an increase in fuel duty, so the freeze is good news for businesses, particularly those at the smaller end of the spectrum. The freeze will help keep transport and distribution costs competitive.”

On infrastructure:

“Businesses will be pleased that the Chancellor is moving forward on key infrastructure projects, from the Manchester-Leeds rail link to Crossrail 2. However, these projects remain at a very preliminary stage, and businesses won’t celebrate exploratory studies and plans that are never realised. The Chancellor needs to push each and every one of the projects announced to the delivery phase to give businesses real confidence, and bring forward projects wherever possible. A decision on airport capacity remains crucial.”

On the reduction of the OBR’s productivity forecast, Marcus Mason, Head of Business, Education and Skills, said:

“It is concerning that the OBR has revised down its productivity growth forecasts. The causes of our productivity problems are both global and home-grown. Domestically, we need to urgently tackle deep-rooted productivity problems in the UK economy, through an unrelenting focus on business investment, better infrastructure and training.”

On support for the self-employed, Marcus Mason added:

“Abolishing Class 2 NICs is a boost for the large number of people across the country who work for themselves.”

On the tax changes for the oil and gas industry, Ashley Shackleton, energy spokesperson at the BCC, said:

“The changes to tax for the UK offshore oil and gas industry won’t have a huge immediate impact but will go some way to secure investor confidence in the sector. The move reflects the serious challenges facing the industry due to current oil prices, and provide some welcome support for continued investment at a critical time.”

On the increase in the climate change levy, Ashley Shackleton said:

“The government must be vigilant in making sure that carbon taxes on businesses do not make them internationally uncompetitive.”

On the 5G strategy, Fiona Krasniqi, BCC digital spokesperson, said:

“We have long-called for the UK to lead the world in developing 5G technology, so we are pleased that the National Infrastructure Commission is to publish a 5G strategy next year. Unless we set the bar high, and ensure UK companies have access to world class digital infrastructure, our dynamic firms will be at a disadvantage.”

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