As reported by Reuters and elsewhere, British businesses have voiced concern about recent tax rises imposed on them by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, while suggesting that Budget statements next month should focus on help with such challenges as Brexit and climate change.
Mr Sunak is expected to set out new tax proposals and a three-year spending plan on Wednesday 27th October, and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) urged him to take the opportunity presented by the date to “flip business taxation on its head”.
Worries about the effects of tax rises on business growth
In a speech at Alliance Manchester Business School, CBI director general Tony Danker commented: “The lack of detail and pace from the government on some of the big economic choices we must make as a country are the biggest concerns for business.”
He continued that in the wake of the recent announcement that National Insurance contributions would be heightened to help fund social care, the time for further increases to business taxes “must end”.
Mr Danker said he was “deeply worried the Government thinks that taxing business – perhaps more politically palatable – is without consequence to growth. It’s not.”
“Business as usual” won’t do, says Danker
However, Mr Danker also warned against a “business as usual” economic policy, drawing attention to the UK’s continued struggles in attracting investment in the industries of the future compared to some of its international competitors.
Mr Danker told the Chancellor to stop hitting firms that invest in making their premises less carbon-intensive with higher property tax bills. He added that greater effort also needed to be put into increasing skills training, accelerating the development of new infrastructure projects, and rewriting market rules to attract greater private investment.
“Traditional UK regulation – and this is not without controversy – has always prioritised competition and consumer price,” Mr Danker observed. “Those things remain vital, but the pendulum has surely swung too far when the UK is bottom of the league table for investment.”
He added that the coming autumn required “big choices that will define a decade. Brexit, COVID, climate change all demand that the UK forges a new growth story to compete in the world, and believe me this will be a competition, for new markets, new skills and technological advantage.”
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With the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) having found that business investment in the UK has fallen short of that in the United States, France and Germany every year since at least 2000, the scale of the challenge to British companies is clear.
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