Derbyshire bounty business bosses call on Chancellor to help firms grow
BUSINESS leaders in Derbyshire have called on Chancellor George Osborne to give more support to help firms grow when he makes his Autumn Statement tomorrow.
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce has submitted an eight-point plan to the Treasury which it believes could help get the local economy moving.
Among the suggestions is the creation of £100 million "growth voucher" to give businesses up to £5,000 to help them navigate the planing system, get finance advice or take on new staff.
The organisation, which has around 4,000 members across both counties, also wants the Government to invest £100 million a year to help UK exporters break into new markets.
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Chamber chief executive George Cowcher concedes that the Chancellor may not have much room to manoeuvre due to the Government's austerity policy.
But he believes cash could be found from other government initiatives – such as the £108 million under-spending from previous rounds of the Regional Growth Fund.
Mr Cowcher said: "The Chancellor has a tricky balancing act to perform with his Autumn Statement this year in that he needs to make some tough decisions to prioritise growth, without them having an adverse effect on the Government's ongoing deficit reduction programme, which is a crucial element of the economic recovery.
"Recent chamber research found that some 80% of Derbyshire firms have plans to grow over the next 12 months and many of our members have been looking for ways to grow, export to new markets and take on more staff, even in spite of weak domestic growth and the ongoing crisis in the Euro-zone.
"Ministers have made some encouraging noises recently about the Government's long-term plans for business growth, we are still not seeing enough urgency in tackling some of the issues facing businesses."
Meanwhile, Richard Farnsworth, a tax expert at Castle Donington-based accountants and business advisers PwC, has called on the Chancellor to announce measures to simplify the tax system.
He said: "By creating a stronger sense of certainty about tax, the Chancellor can encourage businesses to look to the future with greater confidence."
THE CHAMBER'S EIGHT-POINT PLAN
1. A £100 million "growth voucher" to give 20,000 firms up to £5,000 each to help them navigate the planning system, get advice on accessing finance or increase their workforce.
2. Targeted "export vouchers" to encourage businesses to seek out and get the support they need.
3. A £100 million-a-year Government investment in support for UK exporters in 18 key global markets, with in-country trade advisers as part of an International Chambers network.
4. Create a £100 million "unblocking fund" for stalled developments.
5. An increase in the building target of the Homes and Communities Agency by a further 100,000 houses nationally
6. The introduction of a new £1 billion "when it's gone, it's gone" capital allowance scheme to give businesses incentives to commit to major capital investment.
7. Offer incentives for private investment in public infrastructure by reducing risk and providing certainty of returns.
8. Establishing a government-backed Infrastructure Investment Bank.