Business leaders call for tax reduction – plus cuts in red tape and VAT

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The Independent Online

City grandee Sir Michael Snyder would like to see the coalition reduce the 52 per cent effective top rate of tax to promote financial growth.

Sir Michael, inset near right, who leads the influential, Treasury-backed professional services group, admits that such a cut is "pretty unlikely" this week, but thinks that the Government will change its stance in the coming year. "I think a cut has got to happen soon, otherwise we won't attract any business from overseas," the former City of Corporation policy chief – and senior partner at accountant Kingston Smith – claimed.

He is also keen on seeing a pilot of the so-called "smart city", which would involve commercialising data that is collected at taxpayer expense. This, though, has potential data-protection difficulties.

Sir Michael said: "You have to hope that the Government has time among all the difficulties, like the eurozone crisis and the general economic situation, to get some of these initiatives of the ground."

The professional services group pools a number of high-profile professions that otherwise do not sit easily in any major industry body. Lawyers, architects, recruitment consultants and accountants are among those that provide some of the UK's most significant services. When all these professions are clubbed together, the industry is the biggest in the UK.

The group's influence has been such that it even helped change the immigration cap policy introduced early in this Government's life. Its members include Ken Shuttleworth, left, the founder of architect Make, and Christopher Satterthwaite, chief executive of advertising giant Chime Communications.

Kevin Flood, the head of shopping site Shopow, wants the Chancellor to revive confidence by cutting red tape and freezing the proposed fuel duty rise. He added: "A temporary cut in VAT would help give consumers confidence to get out and spend."