Budget 2016: Federation of Small Businesses, EEF, British Chambers of Commerce all warn over chancellor George Osborne's onslaught of business taxes

Lauren Fedor
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BCC director general John Longworth will warn this week that Osborne's policy changes have harmed investment (Source: Getty)

Britain's biggest business groups are today calling on chancellor George Osborne to stop increasing taxes on industry at next month's Budget.

In its Budget submission out today, the EEF said that Osborne needs to signal to businesses that they will not be the "thin end of an ever-thickening wedge".

The EEF, which represents manufacturers, said a "raft of recent policy announcements" have hit businesses "at a time when industry is facing significant global headwinds".

Among the top business risks that the industry group pointed to were rising business costs, the introduction of the new apprenticeship levy and the future cost and complexity of energy-related taxes.

In a special plea for the steel industry, the EEF also urged Osborne to remove plant and machinery from the calculation of business rates.

"While many of the risks we are facing stem from challenges in the global economy, companies are increasingly concerned about the creeping onslaught of taxes and policy decisions falling at the door of employers," said ​EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler. "While, on their own, individual policy decisions may not be significant, taken together they are adding significant cost at a time when business conditions are to say the least, volatile.

"We are concerned that the additional costs we face after just six months of this parliament could be the thin end of an ever thickening wedge," Scuoler added. "The chancellor should look at future tax reforms and fiscal changes within the broad context of a clear long-term strategy supporting industry."

In a separate Budget submission out today, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said Osborne needed to use the Budget to "reassure" small firms in light of recent tax changes.

“In the face of a number of emerging global and domestic pressures, small businesses are looking to the chancellor to back them through what are set to be challenging times ahead," said FSB policy director Mike Cherry. "Many are struggling to get to grips with the cumulative impact of a series of new tax and regulatory changes that are due to hit their business.

“In this climate, it’s crucial that the chancellor uses the Budget to reassure small firms and boost their confidence so that they invest, create jobs and drive economic growth. This means no new major challenges that drive up costs and burdens."

Meanwhile, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director general John Longworth is expected to make a similar point this week, saying Osborne's "steady drip" of new taxes on businesses will harm investment and damage Britain's competitiveness, the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday.

Speaking at the BCC's annual conference on Thursday, Longworth is set to say the chancellor's raft of new levies undermines the government's message that Britain is "open for business".

"Every new tax, charge or regulation has a subsequent impact on business investment," Longworth will say.

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