Budget 2017: Business groups urge Hammond to show that the UK is open for business

Lucy White
Theresa May Meets Business Leaders At Downing Street
The chancellor was asked to rule out business tax increases and maintain investment incentives (Source: Getty)

Business groups have urged chancellor Philip Hammond to emphasise that the UK is open for business in this year's Autumn Statement, which is due on 22 November.

Naturally, much of the focus is on post-Brexit arrangements. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has pushed for the chancellor to match EU funding allocations, while the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has set out a series of measures aimed at “bringing the UK's new industrial strategy to life”.

A Treasury source confirmed to City A.M. yesterday that a “big, bold” Budget was planned, and that Hammond had been seeking advice on addressing intergenerational fairness with a focus on taxes. But any heavy handed alterations could fall foul of industry representatives.

Read more: Budget 2017: Philip Hammond mulling tax cuts for the young paid for by slashing pension tax reliefs

“The UK’s tax system should help rather than hinder firms’ competitiveness and underline the country’s attractiveness as a fantastic place to do business,” said CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn.

“To create stability, the chancellor should set a high bar for tax changes, focusing on targeted measures that address the current economic challenges: supporting investment and productivity growth.”

The FSB has also asked that the chancellor rule out any new business tax increases and maintain investment incentives, including Entrepreneurs' Relief and the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Read more: London business cries out for overdue reform on its property taxes

“We lag behind the EU when it comes to producing serial entrepreneurs,” said FSB national chairman Mike Cherry. “If we want to catch up, and enhance our international competitiveness post-Brexit, we need to see investor incentives protected.”

The European Investment Fund (EIF), which committed around €2.8bn to the UK between 2011 and 2015, has already delayed giving commitments to several UK venture capital funds following the EU referendum, saying that it needed to complete more due diligence.

Combined with local Growth Hub funding coming to an end in 2018, and no extension to the Local Growth Fund for England planned beyond 2021, Cherry has warned that businesses are “staring into a funding black hole” and called for clarity on the future of these initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) made its case for a freeze to wine and spirit duty “to help back British business and bolster Brexit trade deal opportunities”.

Read more: The Institute of Directors is calling on all political parties to back the UK's startup culture ahead of the election

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