Commenting ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement, Ian Larrard, Director of the Initiative in Swindon & Wiltshire said:
“There is a feeling around that this Autumn Statement has fallen off the radar slightly with Scottish Independence just behind us and the general election ahead. But come next Wednesday, businesses will be watching the lips of the Chancellor very closely. If we were to ask George for three presents before Christmas, it would be giveaways on business rates, infrastructure and apprenticeships.
“With a feeling of déjà vu, here we are again asking the Chancellor to cut costs and reform the broken business rates system. For those of you with keen policy memories you may remember the fire for a freeze in business rates this time last year, which the Chancellor briefly tamed with a 2% cap on inflation and the introduction of a rate discount to help the high street. However, this didn’t go far enough and yet again we cry out for reform to this crippling tax which hits firms before they make a profit.
“Infrastructure is at the core of British business, underpinning confidence and competitiveness, but the UK remains off pace with delivery. We already know that the Autumn Statement will contain plans for a £15 billion Roads Investment Strategy, but the government must address the ever-poorer state of Britain’s existing roads as well as adding much-needed new ones and revving up the delivery of key projects. Many of these are currently progressing at a glacial speed.
“The recurring theme as we fight our way to long term growth has been the skills gap amongst young people, with youth unemployment stubbornly high despite total unemployment at its lowest since 2008. Firms consistently tell us about skills shortages and we are working hard to ensure better links between education and business. We urge the Chancellor to use tax cuts to incentivise this.
“After the country officially emerged from a recession this year, we must not see the Chancellor shy away next week in light of the general election next May. Despite a stellar year of growth there are still fundamental weaknesses in the economy to be tackled. Your move George…”
Pictured above: Ian Larrard, Director of the Initiative in Swindon & Wiltshire