By Marcus Leach

When Chancellor George Osborne delivers the Budget next week there will, hardly surprisingly, be a keen focus on what, if any, changes are made to the 50p tax rate. And, with the economy slowly returning to positive growth, Sir Richard Branson has questioned the value of the tax.

Speaking at an exclusive press conference at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Liverpool today (Tuesday), Sir Richard called into question a tax that could be deemed as counterproductive.

"All of us would love to see lower tax rates," he said.

"I think the government needs to work out if the tax rate that is counterproductive or not.

"And my guess is that a tax rate of 50p is costing the country more than it is making, and therefore most likely it is counterproductive, and is only there for political reasons, which isn't a good reason for having a tax."

Vince Cable said last week that replacing the 50p tax is part of a set of 'complex negotiations' and, if it were to be scrapped, it would have to be replaced by a 'taxation of wealth'. We will have to wait until next week to see the outcome of those negotiations, but, according to Sir Richard, one element of the Budget that is needed is the lowering of taxes in general.

"As much as possible the government needs to get as many taxes as possible down as that stimulates the economy," he added. "So we will have to see what happens in the budget."

Sir Richard Branson was talking at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Liverpool, which brought together a unique collection of leading entrepreneurs, political leaders and corporate leaders to celebrate enterprise with delegates from around the world.

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