24th November 2014
Business lobby, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is calling on the Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement to focus on infrastructure investment, encouraging innovation and removing barriers to enterprise.
The latest CBI/URS Infrastructure Survey claimed that businesses expect transport and energy infrastructure to worsen over the next five years.
As a result the CBI’s suggested package of growth boosting measures include: a tunnel under Stonehenge to relieve congestion to the South West; keeping momentum up on the A14 upgrade; and a final decision on the guarantee for Hinkley Point C power station.
The business group also wants the Government to: reform business rates; supercharge the research and development (R&D) tax credit; ensure further devolution passes the business growth test while maintaining the integrity of the UK’s internal market; and freeze long-haul Air Passenger Duty.
It stated that businesses recognise that the public finances are under significant pressure and with the Government still borrowing around £100bn a year, a new fiscal framework should enshrine a continued commitment to deficit reduction. In light of this, the cost of the CBI’s targeted proposals is a what it calls a “modest £676m in 2015/16, paid for through public services reform and departmental savings”.
John Cridland, CBI director-general, warned that while the UK recovery is on solid ground, it is in increasingly stark contrast to what’s happening elsewhere in the world.
He said: “With Eurozone economies flat-lining, continuing political tension between Russia and Ukraine, and in the Middle East, and slowing emerging markets, we must be alert to the possible knock-on effects here.”
Cridland acknowledged that businesses recognise the public purse is under pressure, which is why “they want the Government to continue tackling the deficit, alongside targeted, affordable measures to keep UK growth motoring now, in the next Parliament, and beyond”.
He said: “We know firms are concerned about the state of our roads and energy supply and affordability, so the arrowhead of business recommendations is a major push on improving the country’s infrastructure. Businesses want to see the Government set out clear project plans, with start dates and timescales.
“We also want to see the Government encourage innovation and enterprise by reforming the outdated business rates system, which is a disincentive to company expansion, alongside expanding the R&D tax credit to encourage development, as well as research activity, in the UK.
“And freezing long-haul Air Passenger Duty would help more firms in all UK regions and nations, particularly smaller ones, export their products and services to new growth markets around the world, like Mexico and Indonesia.”
The CBI’s package of growth boosting measures include: