Regional business leaders and banks give their budget wish lists

Richard Proctor, practice leader of Grant Thornton's Norwich office

Richard Proctor, practice leader of Grant Thornton's Norwich office - Credit: Keith Whitmore

The chancellor needs to introduce tax sweeteners to stimulate investment and exports from companies across the east, business leaders have said.

Matthew Peek, corporate director Barclays East Anglia

Matthew Peek, corporate director Barclays East Anglia - Credit: Archant

In a budget wish list to George Osborne, business advisors Grant Thornton called for an export tax credit to encourage companies to target fast-growth international markets outside of the European Union.

But extra incentives are also needed to spark investment into plant and machinery to keep the economic recovery on track, according to professional services firm KPMG, which surveyed 161 medium-sized businesses ahead of the budget.

Richard Proctor, tax partner at Grant Thornton, Norwich, said: 'If UK businesses are going to become less reliant on the EU as an export market and capitalise on the emerging BRIC and MINT economies, legislation and regulation need to be addressed. We'd like to see an export tax credit introduced together with the mentoring of businesses looking to export into new markets.'

He added: 'As the economy starts to motor and the labour market becomes more competitive, finding, retaining and growing talent becomes increasingly important. To help businesses with this challenge we recommend the Chancellor provides an NIC exemption for employers and employees for the duration of an apprenticeship to further encourage businesses to invest in equipping people with the right skills for today's market.'

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Stuart Wilkinson, head of tax for KPMG, East Anglia, said: 'Although businesses are regaining their confidence as the economy grows, our research shows that they would like further encouragement to invest in plant and machinery to support future growth. Business is also acutely aware that if people feel that they have more money in their pockets, this will help to keep economic growth on track

'For many businesses outside London, there is also a need for an increase in investment of the physical infrastructure which allows the UK's middle market to get on and do business. Long-term under investment of public and private money in hard infrastructure, such as roads and railways, is now proving to be a barrier to growth that needs to be addressed if our regional business communities are to fully play their part in economic growth.'

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Elsewhere, Matthew Peek, corporate director of Barclays Corporate Banking East Anglia, said over two-fifths (43%) of businesses feel positive about the economy, which is 20 per cent higher than the same point last year.

'I believe that this budget is an opportunity to think positively about how to create the right conditions for long term, sustainable success for the UK focusing on key areas as detailed below,' he said.

'The government should consider ways of creating a world class ecosystem for entrepreneurialism. Fundamentally, we believe that high growth potential start-ups require significantly enhanced access to non-bank risk finance. The UK business finance market relies on 80 per cent of its finance via traditional lending, while in the US, this stands at only 20 per cent with 80 per cent derived from non-bank sources.'

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