The Budget: This is what we want
The Chancellor will be opening up his famous red box next Wednesday. We asked some senior businessmen what they are hoping for from George Osborne
Saturday 17 March 2012
Xavier Rolet, finance
London Stock Exchange chief executive
"We would like to see strong policies to support the UK's innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
"They will be the growth engines of our economy.
"There should be a greater choice of financing for SMEs, including strong access to equity and non-bank debt.
"There should also be tax changes, including removing stamp duty on shares in smaller companies and introducing roll-over relief or a reduced capital gains tax rate for investment gains made on growth market companies. In addition, there should be opportunities for more people to be able to invest in SMEs."
Andy Clarke, retail
Asda chief executive
"I know the chancellor has a tough job and is working hard to balance the books. But we know our customers are too. And making the household budget add up has got really tough in the past couple of years. I take my lead from what our shoppers tell us and I think the Chancellor should too. Asda mums are telling us loud and clear that the single most important thing they want from the chancellor is a cut in the price of fuel. Most want to see the planned fuel duty increase scrapped. In fact over half want duty cut, not frozen. They know that would mean more money in their pockets to spend on their families."
Colin Matthews, aviation
BAA chief executive
"I hope the Chancellor uses the Budget to set out how he will maintain the UK's aviation hub status and help connect businesses in London with growth markets around the world. The latest figures, which show European airports opening new routes to China that are not being served at all from the UK, should be deeply troubling. They are further evidence that flights squeezed out of Heathrow don't go to another London airport but move outside the UK altogether.
"As a consequence, London is slipping down the league table of international connectivity and becoming a less-attractive place to do business.
"That can only be bad news for trade, for businesses and for jobs."
Jerry Bulhmann, media
Aegis chief executive
"Anything that stimulates growth and enterprise in the private sector has to be good for the economy.
"Growth is going to come from the private sector. The Government has made a start on cutting corporation tax and it would be good if they could accelerate a reduction in the rate.
"People need clarity and certainty over the future, so any more clarity to business that they can deliver would be welcome."
Mark Elborne, industry
GE UK chief executive
"We believe that the key priority is for the Government to take steps to ensure the UK grows its manufacturing and industrial footprint. GE employs over 18,000 people in the UK and a key priority for us is to see greater focus on developing skills in order to make us more competitive on the global stage. Retraining and up-skilling our existing workforce is something that we continue to prioritise and we would certainly welcome government assistance in this area. We would urge the Government to establish a national strategy for skills.
"One area where we believe resources should be focused is developing more skilled engineers and we hope the Budget seizes the opportunity to reinforce the Government's commitment to improving the flow of skilled people through apprenticeships. We believe this would greatly improve the UK as a destination for foreign investment."
Ian Hawksworth, property
Capital & Counties chief executive
"If there is a theme it should be to ensure that the UK economy remains competitive and that we remain open for business in the eyes of the rest of the world. On property in particular there are a couple of things the Chancellor could look at, firstly residential Reits (real estate investment trusts). There are residential Reit frameworks elsewhere in the world for institutional investors and the housing shortage in this country would benefit from institutional investment. Also the sooner he can speed up the planning system the better, because what the British economy needs is homes and jobs."
Jim O’Neill, banking
Goldman Sachs Asset Management chairman
"It looks to me as though for the first time since elected, the Government heads to a Budget with some lights turning on through the past, depressing quagmire of weakening growth and poor government finances.
"Partly as a result of such low expectations and some tough trend growth assumptions last November, the run-up to the Budget has seen a number of better-than-expected economic releases, declining inflation and stronger-than-expected public finances. At a minimum, this will allow the Chancellor some scope to present a less grim future and if he so chooses, some scope to ease up a little.
"If he does, I would like to see spending boosted in infrastructure around the country, as well as perhaps more of a vision as to where he would like taxation to be in the future, if not necessarily today."
Sir Roger Bone, aviation
Boeing UK president
"Rebalancing the economy towards manufacturing and exports could be a valuable area on which to focus for the Budget.
"Boeing spends an annual average of $1bn (£630m) with UK suppliers. We also have research partnerships with UK universities worth many millions more.
"This is due to the quality of the products on offer and they are important contributions to our global business. For example, when fitted with Rolls-Royce engines alongside contributions from other UK companies, 25 per cent by value of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is made in the UK.
"Proposals to improve access to finance for small firms in the supply chain and investment in education... will be crucial to deliver economic growth and the next generation of employees in the UK's high-value manufacturing businesses."
David Scott, finance
Vestra Wealth managing partner
"Vestra Wealth wants to see a Budget that encourages growth and entrepreneurial spirit.
"We want the 5 per cent minimum holding for entrepreneurs relief raised to encourage individuals to invest in unquoted companies that do not fall under the EIS [Enterprise Investment Scheme].
"We also want reliefs for corporates investing in enterprise zones extended to individuals.
"Finally, we would like to see extra incentives to take on young employees so young people can get started on the employment ladder."
Jacob Colton, confectionery
Posh Pick And Mix founder
"Life as an SME is tough. I hope the budget is going to encourage entrepreneurship and stimulate economic growth in the UK.
"I would like to see a reduction in corporation tax as this would be a key incentive for business. Introducing different levels of corporation tax, for example, no tax when less than £10,000 of profits and 10 per cent between £10,000 and £50,000 would help. Ireland has 12.5 per cent corporation tax across the board and this stimulates overseas investment and jobs.
"Making it easier and cheaper to employ staff by relief on national insurance when there are fewer than 10 employees for the first three years of a business would encourage employment."
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