Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is set to provide the spring budget on March 8 and businesses are hoping that indications of a softened business rate hike will become reality.
Hammond has already suggested that he is prepared to look at helping businesses who will be hardest hit by business rates such as SMEs and retailers.
UK borrowing and growth are better than expected according to the economic forecasting group EY Item Club, who said that stronger than expected tax receipts has meant the Office for Budget Responsibility will be able to cut borrowing by £3 billion to £65 billion.
However business leaders in Lincolnshire have their own thoughts as to what could be announced in this year’s Spring Budget:
Paul Tutin, Chairman and Managing Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants
“The boost in tax receipts this January has given the chancellor room to give some small giveaways in his final spring budget.
“This will probably be focused on help for the NHS, social care and education in line with Theresa May’s ‘shared society’ vision and possibly helping small businesses with rising business rates.
“Don’t expect anything large though, as the Chancellor will want to see how 2017 fairs against the back drop of Brexit talks and world events.
“Overall, the next three years are likely to see falling public sector spending by some 4% over the period mostly in 2019/20 and some tax increases but in subtle ways such as IPT and duties rather than unpopular headline changes.
“The big one though might be in the impact of changes to business rates and the potential for business in the Greater Lincolnshire area to see an increase unless there is some transitional relief, or consideration to the fact that many businesses are experiencing increased costs.
“So that leaves very little being done this March. I expect it will be more about setting the tone for the government.”
David Thorpe, FSB Development Manager for Greater Lincolnshire and Peterborough
“At Spring Budget 2017, our entrepreneurial culture is on the line. The government’s announcements on self-employment will be the litmus test for how pro-business it is going to be for the rest of this parliament.
“There are a number of ways Spring Budget 2017 and the Taylor Review could help.
“FSB seeks a statutory definition of self-employment, changes to the social security system so that it better reflects today’s economy, Universal Credit to be responsive to income fluctuations, and incentives to help the self-employed pay for their retirement.
“In short, we need more people to set themselves up in the business, not less. The risk these local business leaders take should be reflected in the tax system, so that we build on the 5.5 million record high level of small businesses in the UK.”
Councillor Colin Davie, Executive Member for Economic Development at Lincolnshire County Council
“The Local Government Association conference highlighted the continuing need for investment in the nation’s health and care system.
“That’s something that is important, not just for local government services (if central government provides a fairer level of funding for health and care then it gives us the chance to invest more of the council’s money in schemes that support economic growth) but it is also important for our economy as there are nearly 40,000 people that work in the sector in Lincolnshire and it is worth nearly £1 billion to our economy.
“We’re taking further clues from the consultation on the industrial strategy – the government has clearly shown that investments in growth schemes are an important part of how they want to grow the economy.
“We know that three quarters of Lincolnshire’s residents want to see further investment in economic growth schemes, so let’s hope that we do see announcements of that nature.
“Businesses tell us that access to a wide range of sources of finance will help them to grow further.
“We have already worked with partners to put in place a Midlands wide financial programme, which is due to be launched in April, but anything that the chancellor can do to reduce costs to local business and to give them more cash to invest in their business is to be welcomed.”
Sam Elkington, Head of Agency at Lambert Smith Hampton
“It will be interesting to see what the government actually produce in the Budget Statement but it is, I think, imperative that they look to provide further support for businesses facing substantial Business Rate increases.
“Whilst there are certain sectors which will be benefitting from the reassessment of Business Rates, there are certainly other areas that will be disadvantaged.
“The current increases, which are being discussed across the various sectors, range from 4%-15% and it is important that any imbalance is rectified before April.
“As we get nearer the start of the Brexit negotiations I think that the Chancellor should also start to highlight the parameters within which they are going to be negotiating.
“In particular they need to give confirmation on the position relating to infrastructure projects already committed but not yet implemented through EU funding. This will give certainty to various projects that are committed throughout the county.
“From a business perspective, I think these are the two major factors.”