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What can we expect from the Chancellor in next week’s budget?

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Wednesday March 12, 2014 at 10:00am
As the day for the UK budget announcement looms commentators and industry bodies have gone into overdrive as usual, speculating on what might be announced next Wednesday, 19th March 2014, and lobbying for their particular favourite measure.

The British Chambers of Commerce are predicting that the UK economy will exceed its pre-recession peak by the summer, with manufacturing and services being the main drivers of this growth. They used their latest forecast report to call on the Chancellor to incentivise businesses to hire more young people and make it easier for growing firms to secure finance.

The CBI is calling on George Osborne to promote investment and exports to rebalance the economy. Whilst presenting a positive picture of growth over the next couple of years and a general increase in confidence, the CBI is calling on the government to ensure secure and affordable energy for the benefit of all UK businesses. They are also calling for an extension to the Annual Investment Allowance of £250,000, beyond the current January 2015 deadline, to help boost capital spending.

Perhaps more important for the average SME is the CBI’s call for the government to help firms access finance for growth. Their requests include making the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme permanent, a move we would certainly support.

Meanwhile commentators in the Daily Telegraph are calling on George Osborne to scrap the Help to Buy scheme, which it calls ‘unnecessary and damaging’. This seems unlikely, as it does seem to be claiming some success in stimulating the housing market.

Others are calling for a lowering of stamp duty, to stimulate the housing market in a different and many would feel more positive direction.

Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can only speculate, along with other commentators. But, in terms of my real wish from the Chancellor next week? I would like to see measures that encourage our hard working owner managers and family owned businesses to grow, so I’m with the CBI in calling for easier access to finance for SMEs and schemes like the Seed Investment Scheme have the advantage of providing tax breaks for investors too. Outside of the scope of the budget I’d like to see a reversal of the draconian approach being taken to tax planning by HMRC. It appears they are now treating tax evasion and tax avoidance as one and the same thing, ignoring the fact that one is a perfectly legal and legitimate practice. So, whether it comes from the Chancellor or from Government bodies what I’m really hoping for is a bit of common sense that will benefit small and medium sized firms, their directors and investors, which ultimately will benefit the UK economy.

Andy Parker
Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Planner

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