By Daniel Hunter
The CBI has called on the Chancellor to use the Autumn Statement to support business investment, and wants to see action on business rates, energy and housing to drive economic growth and help with the cost of living.
The CBI is also urging the Government to stick to its deficit reduction strategy, warning it is still less than half complete and there are many years to go to finish the job.
Among the measures the UK's leading business group is calling for is an overhaul of the complex and outmoded business rates system, which is acting as a barrier to investment. The CBI wants the Government to commit to full reform, and in the short term to cap the annual business rates increase at 2%, and introduce an incentive for businesses to move into vacant property to boost local high streets.
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Business investment is absolutely vital if we are to continue growing the economy.
“We must not forget the job on deficit reduction is only half done and needs finishing. This needs to go hand in hand with business investment to create jobs, raise living standards and drive the recovery.
“At the heart of our realistic package of measures for the Chancellor is an overhaul of the business rates system, which will boost the high street, manufacturers and factories. We want to ensure windows are opened up, not boarded up.”
In its Autumn Statement submission, the CBI is also calling on the Chancellor to make changes in the following key areas:
The CBI argues that business investment is needed in the energy sector to keep the lights on and help vulnerable households and businesses with rising costs.
The CBI is calling for the Government to:
- Provide greater flexibility within the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to help families struggling with the cost of living, and extend the scheme from 2015 to 2017 to give greater certainty to energy companies and the supply chain
- Guarantee support for Energy Intensive Industries for the duration of the Carbon Price Floor
Housing and infrastructure
The UK needs to get building and get moving, and the focus must be on the delivery of more homes and infrastructure projects. On housing, the Help to Buy scheme has helped to generate demand, make homes more affordable and increase consumer confidence.
Now we need to see action to boost supply and deliver infrastructure projects by:
- Increasing housing supply through accelerating land release
- Addressing the length of time and cost required to receive planning permission
- Publishing the revised National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) and implementing a capital allowance for infrastructure
Finance for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs)
Over the last five years, the overwhelming majority of jobs have been created by SMEs.
However lending conditions are still challenging, so the CBI is urging the Government to:
- Kick-start a market in securitisation for SME loans
- Continue supporting the development of markets for alternative forms of finance such as the retail bond market, private placement, equity finance and crowd-funding
Skills and job creation
Workers need to be suitably skilled to enter a dynamic workplace and this means putting employers in the driving seat. Government schemes to tackle youth unemployment work best when they are locally based and employer led.
The Government must:
- Take further action to alleviate youth unemployment, with a centrally-managed, locally-led scheme that can be sensitive to business needs and local economies.
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