Freeze rates and fuel duty budget plea from business
DERBYSHIRE firms want Chancellor George Osborne to freeze business rates and fuel duty when he delivers his Budget this week.
These are the issues at the top of the wish list of county businesses, according to research by Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire of Commerce.
They also want a rethink on government spending and faster delivery of initiatives to drive economic growth.
Mr Osborne is due to announce the Budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
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Ahead of his speech, as part of its fieldwork for its latest Quarterly Economic Survey, the chamber questioned its members on what they felt should be the Chancellor's key priorities.
The chamber, which has about 4,000 members, said that although the majority of Derbyshire businesses (60%) continue to support the Government's deficit reduction programme at its current pace, it believes the point may soon come when ministers have to rein it back.
The chamber also wants to see "rapid and radical steps" to shift Government spending from unproductive areas towards growth measures delivered quickly.
Chamber chief executive George Cowcher said: "Government spending remains far too focused on unproductive programmes, rather than measures that underpin economic growth, wealth creation and prosperity.
"With subdued levels of economic growth, it is not acceptable to protect wasteful current spending at the expense of capital investment and tax cuts that can spur long-term growth."
Other measures it wants to see include the introduction of a firm timetable for the launch of a credible British Business Bank, with an additional £10 billion in capital over the next three years to provide the necessary base to allow it to start lending directly to businesses at a scale that would make a difference.
And the chamber would like to see the creation of a £100 million Growth Voucher scheme for up to 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses with ambitions to grow, with vouchers of up to £5,000, which could be spent on advice or support around legal and HR issues, access to finance, training and planning matters.
Mr Cowcher said: "Bold action must be taken now to boost confidence so that businesses can create wealth and prosperity. That means both delivering on existing promises and taking radical action today, not tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Derby's pub and brewing companies are hoping that Mr Osborne will announce the scrapping of the beer duty escalator.
Paul Harris, from Derby Brewing Company, which as well as brewing its own beer owns pubs in Derby, said: "In the past couple of years the amount of duty on beer has gone up 50%, which is crippling the industry and putting thousands of people out of work.
"Instead of receiving help, our industry has been hammered by higher tax.
"Real ale is a booming industry – but it could be doing better if the Government gave some support."