Ahead of the Chancellor’s Budget tomorrow, Wednesday March 16, Ian Larrard, director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West, looks at what it could mean for local businesses:
“This might be the quietest Budget in living memory. With the political headlines monopolised by the EU referendum, there’s a temptation to forget it is happening. But for businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire, this Wednesday is still one of the most important dates of the year.
“George Osborne’s speech is likely to be remembered for two things; devolution and additional business costs.
“Since the Scottish Independence Referendum kicked off the devolution debate, we’ve seen deals handed out across the county, from the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ to Cornwall, but many South West regions are still waiting.
“The signs show that we are getting closer, and there is a good chance that the West of England and Gloucestershire will feature in the Chancellor’s speech this week. This will mark a significant turning point for the local economy, and it is vital that the deals are ambitious and far reaching.
“Whilst we are on the subject on devolution, there is a key decision to be made in this Budget, and if it goes the wrong way it could cost the South West £843million and over 1,500 jobs. This issue, of course, is the devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Wales. We are supportive of the devolution of power from Westminster, but not when it displaces economic activity, rather than creates it.
“The second issue, as always, comes down to taxes. As part of the British Chamber of Commerce, we are campaigning for a simpler, better, and more competitive tax system, which in turn will help to support investment and growth.
“Recently we’ve seen the Chancellor announce a few direct and indirect taxes on business, and given the continued pressure on government finances, that could leave businesses in the firing line for a hike in taxes.
“We know that the South West economy is performing strongly, with over two thirds of local businesses telling us they are confident for the year ahead, but across the country, companies are still facing high business rates and unstable costs. We are calling for the Chancellor to announce no new taxes on businesses or entrepreneurs for the remainder of this parliament.
“In the midst of EU mania, businesses will still watching keenly on Wednesday, and it is vital that Chancellor delivers some good news.”
Pictured above: Ian Larrard, director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative, part of Business West