The UK faces challenges that can only be solved through partnership. In its pre-Budget letter to the Chancellor, the CBI proposes ways to unlock enterprise, increase the country’s competitiveness and attract more investors, all aimed at lifting productivity and sharing prosperity. This is particularly important as the UK has the lowest level of business investment as a proportion of GDP in the G7, with the gap widening even further.
To set the UK on the right path, Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s Director-General, urges the Chancellor of the Exchequer to focus on three key areas to unlock growth in her submission ahead of the Budget: reform business rates to ensure firms can invest and grow, build on recent announcements to make the apprenticeship levy work; and improve capital allowances to drive investment particularly in digital and low carbon technologies.
The Budget must also help tackle the immediate impact of Brexit uncertainty. Increasing the annual investment allowance will help lift the fog of uncertainty that is holding back investment, while hundreds of thousands of firms need help planning for the changes ahead. They urgently need a one-stop shop for advice and information as the clock ticks down to March.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:“As we near the end of Brexit negotiations, the world’s gaze is fixed on these shores. This Budget is a pivotal moment and chance to showcase the UK as an open, collaborative and confident nation. Entrepreneurs here and around the world need to see a UK committed to harnessing the power of business to innovate and tackle problems, from sustainability to inequality.
“With skills shortages, uncertainty and the squeeze in incomes on the rise, this couldn’t be a more critical time to plug the drain on the UK’s productivity and deliver prosperity that is shared by workforces and communities across the country.
“The Government must focus its attention on making the UK a shining beacon of enterprise, at the top of every investment league table and known worldwide as a country that attracts, not deters, capital and talent.”
On post-Brexit trade, Carolyn said: “It is fundamental that a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU is agreed. This will provide temporary but essential relief for firms of all sizes. Then attention can turn to the vital task of finalising our future economic and trading relationship with the EU.
“In order for businesses to navigate the challenges and opportunities of Brexit, they badly need advice and information. The Government should ensure that funds allocated to Brexit readiness are used properly and communicate with business effectively.”
Post-Brexit trade recommendations for the Government include:
- Invest in an online one-stop shop of advice and information for businesses about leaving the European Union
- Continue to allocate resources to HMRC for the expansion of the Civil Service to deal with post-Brexit government functions.