Norfolk business leaders on what they want to see in Wednesday’s budget

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside No 11 Downing Street. Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outside No 11 Downing Street. Yui Mok/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Wednesday's budget will be the fourth major book-balancing exercise in the past year. So what would business leaders in the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce like to see?

Caroline Williams, CEO Norfolk Chamber of Commerce:

'Budget 2016 is the fourth major fiscal event in twelve months. Norfolk businesses are already facing high business rates, unstable environment as a consequence of government energy policy decisions, have had to take on the additional burdens of pension auto-enrolment, the pressures of an increase National Living Wage, a new payroll tax in the form of the Apprenticeship Levy, the introduction of quarterly tax reporting and the big hike in Insurance premium tax.

'We will continue to call for support for skills, infrastructure and fixing our business finance system. However now is the time for the Government to commit to no new up-front business taxes for the remainder of this Parliament and to deliver the long overdue business rates reform including permanent abolition of the annual uplift in multiplier, removal of plant & machinery from the rating system and a system democratically accountable to the businesses who pay the tax.'

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Simon Gray, Great Yarmouth Chamber Council member and CEO at East of England Energy Group:

'From the perspective of the energy industry we are looking for the total removal of all supplementary taxes on oil and gas providing a level playing field with all other industries trading in the UK. We would also like to see reassurances that sufficient funding will be in place for future rounds of CfD for offshore wind projects required in the UK'

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Guy Gowing, Managing Partner, Arnolds Keys LLP:

'This is a critical Budget for George Osborne, because it comes right in the middle of a period of significant uncertainty caused by the forthcoming EU referendum. Uncertainty leads to lack of confidence, so above all I hope that he delivers a Budget next week to steady the nerves.

'One area needing reform is Business Rates. Currently the system penalises some sectors over others (for example 'bricks and mortar' retailers are at a disadvantage compared with their online only counterparts). Landlords of properties which are difficult to let are unfairly penalised, and any surplus is mopped up by central government and provides little local benefit. So if the chancellor does one thing in his Budget, I hope he will announce a full review of Business Rates.'

Simon Watson, Norfolk Chamber Board Director and partner Lovewell Blake LLP:

'I would like to see HM Revenue & Customs deploy more resource to assisting new businesses who are registering for VAT for the first time. When entrepreneurs first set up a business they typically invest personal savings in premises, equipment and fixtures and fittings. At present there are significant delays with HM Revenue & Customs processing initial VAT returns which often reflect refunds of VAT. These monies are vital to the working capital of early stage businesses and fall at such a critical time.'

Andy Penman, Group Managing Director of Conductor Installation Services and Chair of Great Yarmouth Chamber Council:

'The Great Yarmouth Chamber Council are calling for the Chancellor to support critical infrastructure in the area to help the growing energy sector, particularly to support the Third River Crossing. If the government can commit £3m in funding, to complement what has already been secured from the Local Growth Fund, it will secure the essential next stage of the project.

'Secondly, we would like clarification on how the new plans for apprenticeship funding will work for SMEs, to ensure the process is effective and not a burden on businesses.'

James Mason, Commercial Director Norfolk Training Services and Norfolk Chamber Board Director:

'I would hope to see clarity around the Apprenticeship Levy and the proposed changes to Apprenticeship funding and content that will accompany it. It's expected that the changes will allow businesses much more freedom to develop their Apprenticeship programmes, but, as ever, the more information and time to plan the better.'

•Let us know what you would like to see in George Osborne's budget by commenting below.

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