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Liverpool Chamber Community outline hopes and expectations ahead of Autumn Statement

As businesses prepare for the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this afternoon, here are a selection of insights from within the Liverpool Chamber community.

Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber, said:

“The Autumn Statement must place a heavy emphasis on supporting economic growth and raising business investment. Businesses are being stymied by high costs, staff shortages and unpredictable demand, so we urge the Chancellor to take bold steps to unlock sustainable growth.

“While business confidence is largely stronger than 12 months ago, many firms are still disinclined to invest due to outmoded planning systems and energy and transport infrastructure and they need greater stability in order to plan ahead with confidence.

“Expanding full expensing for investment, renewing the 75% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, and simplifying the tax system will all go some way to achieving that goal.

“If the government also has the bandwidth to cut business taxes without sparking another rise in inflation, it must do so to further boost business confidence and investment in jobs and innovation.”

Graham Bond, partner at RSM, a Chamber Patron, says:

“The chancellor is faced with a difficult balancing act in next week’s Autumn Statement. He is on record as saying ‘the tax burden is too high’, but finds himself with limited room for manoeuvre, given the challenging macro-economic background.

“While there may be some eye-catching announcements, our expectation is for mainly low-key measures, designed to counter inflation, and a focus on technical issues that address known challenges, stimulate business investment, reduce compliance costs and tackle tax avoidance.”

Kevin Horton, architect director at K2 Architects and a member of our Business Policy Committee says:

“Raising taxes on small and medium-sized businesses that have survived a pandemic only to struggle against higher operating costs seems short-sighted. It may serve to incentivise lower cash reserves, reduced investment, decreasing competitiveness and productivity or even job losses and insolvency.

“We need to think about whether corporation tax increases, in particular, are fair and proportionate in the light of the windfalls that some more resilient organisations less affected by the pandemic have enjoyed.”

Alex Pilkington, a member of our Business Policy Committee, says:

“I’d like to see long-term strategies for growth within the economy and within the region. Ensuring the Liverpool City Region receives all of its devolved funding at the same time is key, to give more certainty and longevity to projects and to also better enable local authority forward planning and budgetary spend. It will counteract the piecemeal way things are currently done, which creates uncertainty and stop-start on certain projects and spending.

“Incentives to support sustainable business growth and tax simplification would both be welcomed by businesses and advisers, but it has been on the agenda for many years with little progress and whilst this is greatly needed there may be other more pressing priorities.

“However, the most important thing that businesses need to grow and thrive is some certainty and ability to forward plan with a degree of confidence. Without this, organisations will hold off spending and investing which will cause the economy to flatline as we have seen in the last few months of the year.”

Sean Keyes, Patron of Liverpool Chamber and Chief Executive at Sutcliffe, gives his expert thoughts:

“The government has promised to build more houses time and time again and so I hope Jeremey Hunt implements measures to tackle planning delays and numerous other costs facing engineers and house builders. Everyone deserves to live in a quality home and the budget should address this basic need. Not only would this positively impact the construction sector, but also society in general. At Sutcliffe, we are involved in the design of around 20,000 homes a year across the UK, yet housing was notable by its absence in the previous budget and so now is the time to take decisive action and tackle the housing crisis by investing in more sustainable homes.”

Simon Harris, CEO of Avrenim, gives his thoughts:

“Ahead of Jeremy Hunt’s budget, I’m hoping to see more incentives to encourage more sustainable practices and encourage everyone from large landlords to the NHS to invest in decarbonisation and adopt more eco-friendly policies. If this Government is serious about becoming carbon neutral and achieving Net Zero, then more needs to be done, be it the phasing out of old boilers in commercial buildings to investing in renewable energy sources to fuel NHS trusts. Wednesday is going to be crucial in forwarding the Net Zero agenda in the commercial sector and I just hope the Chancellor recognises his responsibility in ensuring we create a greener future for the next generation whilst stimulating wider business growth.”