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10 things Hammond MUST include in the Autumn Statement 2016

21st Nov 16 9:43 am

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Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond is set to deliver his first Autumn Statement on 23 November. So, what do businesses want to hear from Hammond?

1. “Lower corporation tax”

Mark Sismey-Durrant, chief executive of Hampshire Trust Bank:

“In order to help stimulate the UK economy, the government should lower corporation tax. A fifth (21 per cent) of SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses) that we spoke to as part of our recent SME Growth Watch report said taxation in general is a key barrier to their business growth. We believe that easing this burden will create improved conditions for future growth.”

2. “It is vital that we make London more attractive to people starting out in their careers”

Sinead Hasson, MD and Founder, Hasson Associates:

“Graduates and young professionals cannot afford to live in London so it is vital that we make London more attractive to people starting out in their careers.  We have recently worked with a candidate who is worried about how to live in London on a starting salary which barely covers her rent & student debt.  The issue of affordable housing and student debt are definitely key barriers for young people who want to work in London and employers who want to hire in London.  If we do not address these issues, then we will not be able to attract the brightest and the best to help London and the UK economy to thrive.”

3. “Press ahead with its tax review as a matter of urgency”

Dave Chaplin, CEO and founder, Contractor Calculator:

“The current tax system is stuck in the dark ages and not aligned with today’s modern way of working so I would urge the government to press ahead with its tax review as a matter of urgency. HMRC is fighting a losing battle by trying to legislate for people who are employed when, in fact, they are not – the recent Uber case shone a very bright spotlight on the issue.  If the tax paid by employees and the self-employed was on a parity, we could put an end to the knee-jerk reaction that we are currently seeing as more and more red tape is applied – patching a problem rather than solving it will hamper the UK economy. 

“It is a time for a complete overhaul. The freelance workforce is propping up the UK economy and Hammond needs to acknowledge these workers and remove the red tape and pledge to not introduce any more legislation that will get in their way. Making Tax Digital is another issue on which I would urge him to go carefully and slowly – now is not the time to put a brake on the economy by making all small business owners spend considerable time on administrative tasks rather than on revenue generating activities which is the heart of their business and will ultimately help the economy to thrive.”

4. “Government needs to supporting during Brexit uncertainty”

Hugo Burge, CEO, Momondo Group:

“UK businesses need this year’s Autumn statement to be supportive and reassuring, particularly after the political uncertainly they face post-Brexit and the US election result. One of the swiftest ways the government can achieve this is through its approach to corporation tax, with rumours of a cut to 15 per cent continuing to circulate. The move to 17 per cent is already driving a positive impact, and although I don’t feel the speculated 15 per cent cut will actually come into effect, any acceleration that is possible should be applauded.”

5. “Digital at the heart of the public-sector”

Chas Moloney, director, Ricoh UK:

“It’s critical that the government accelerates its digital transformation initiatives, to create smarter, faster and more user-friendly public services.”

“Delivering a paperless NHS is just the beginning, with areas such as education and local government on the cusp of benefiting hugely from transformational technologies.”

“By putting digital at the heart of the public-sector strategy, the government can empower new workstyle innovations, speed up digitisation and deliver even better services to the public.”

6. “STEM subjects and courses for all students is imperative”

Guita Blake, senior vice president and head of Europe, Mindtree:

“The recent news revealing that women are paid less for the same work is a clear signal that more needs to be done to retain a healthy, diverse workforce in the UK. This is especially crucial as the UK powers forward into the ‘employee economy’ where the demands of the employee are shaping the workforce of today. Now more than ever, robust investments into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and courses for all students is imperative to inspire strong leadership in our country’s biggest organisations.”

“In this year’s Autumn Statement, we hope to see Hammond show a commitment to furthering the ‘STEM agenda’ in the UK, inspiring our future female and male leaders to aspire to the best possible job roles, safe in the knowledge that they will be fairly rewarded for their work.”

7. “That European Structural Funds will lead to reduced funding”

Nigel Wilcock, Executive Director at the Institute of Economic Development:

“Our main concerns, as economic development professionals, around what will come in the forthcoming Autumn Statement centre around four key areas. That European Structural Funds will lead to reduced funding for the regions and this will not be replaced in full. Devolution deals will slow down and not allocate enough future funding to allow them to be a success – essentially shifting responsibility without the ability to deliver. Big ticket regional infrastructure projects will lose out whilst HS2, Crossrail 2 and Heathrow are given the priority. And there will not be enough subsidy in the tariff structure for energy to allow the larger renewable projects to proceed.”

“We would like to see how the refurbishment of parliament is linked to spreading more activities of government around the regions, the interventions that will be offered by government to ensure that large inward investment projects can continue to be attracted to the UK post-Brexit, and the acceleration of regional transport projects. Further detail on how Local Authority funding will work using business rates and other measures would also be welcome.”

8. “Stamp duty changes”

Alistair Bingle , managing director, Bishop’s Move:

“For several years I have called for stamp duty changes to reflect regional variations in house prices for first-time buyers. Yet, despite reform over the past 18 months, there remains huge regional differences in the payment of stamp duty by this key buying group. There needs to be drastic changes because, combined with uncertainty surrounding Brexit, this is having a detrimental impact on the market. We all know that part of this boils down to buy-to-let investors who bought up much of the supply of cheaper homes for first-time buyers ahead of the stamp duty hike in April.”

“They had a bricks and mortar feast and first-time buyers are still reeling from it now. Whilst first-time buyers are now competing against fewer buy-to-let investors, the downside is they are instead faced with serious affordability issues. However, it isn’t too late for the government to act. Either a welcome, and perhaps drastic cut, in stamp duty or a regional model which reflects geographic differences in property prices would seriously help first-time buyers fulfil their dream of owning a home. The Autumn Statement is the right time to act.”

9. “We need more R&D”

Martin Hurworth, MD, Harvey Water Softeners:

“The Autumn Statement needs to lay out
the direction of travel. It’s a big moment to see what the chancellor is made of. We’re going to be investing more than we’ve done previously, but the country needs big, bold measures if we want more companies like Nissan to stay and invest here long-term. Investment decisions and future growth depend on it.”

“I’d like to see Hammond expand R&D (research and development) tax credits and increase the potential cash repayment from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) on R&D spend from the current limit of 33.35 per cent of the cost. He should also make apprenticeships a priority. The icing on the cake would be clarity around the UK’s negotiating position when it comes to trade tariffs. An indication of the government’s ‘red lines’ when it comes to trading with Europe post-Brexit would allay many concerns.”

10. “Investing in sectors that are future-proofed and growing at a significant rate”

William Newton, EMEA Director, WiredScore:

“The Brexit Leave campaign assured us that our exit from the EU would result in a substantial return of funds to Britain, which could then be used to invest in our services and programmes. Instead of waiting until 2019 or later, the investments must be made now to bolster growth during these turbulent times.”

“Investing in sectors that are future-proofed and growing at a significant rate, such as the tech and digital industries, is a safe bet. More funding for digital skills and broadband infrastructure are just two ways that the government can ensure the UK economy continues to thrive.”

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