Tees Talk: what Tees businesses want from unique budget

Tees business leaders give us their hopes and thoughts ahead of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s forthcoming Budget…

Lee Watson, tax director, Clive Owen LLP

Quite honestly, this is such a difficult Budget to attempt to predict as there has been nothing ordinary in the last year. Tax rises seem inevitable but there needs to be a balance between tax rises and encouraging consumer spending.

It would not be a typical Conservative approach to make the richest pay more tax, but this seems the most likely source of tax revenue in these unprecedented times. Rumours are abounding regarding increases to the main capital taxes – capital gains tax and inheritance tax – or even the potential introduction of a “one-off” wealth tax are under consideration.

I anticipate that we may see a rise to corporation tax – perhaps back to the tiered (sorry!) system where there were multiple rates of corporation tax and basically those companies with more profits, paid tax at a higher rate. Whilst this was quite painful for those of us in tax to work out, the chancellor won’t be too fussed about that.

Sharon Lane, managing director, Tees Components

I am keenly awaiting confirmation of the location of the new Northern Economic campus and would love to see this in the Tees Valley.

R&D tax credit continues to be a vital support to SMEs innovating to react to changing market conditions, particularly for projects which might otherwise have too much commercial or technical risk.

SMEs in engineering and manufacturing have also had significant spends on making their premises Covid-safe, so far without any financial support. I would like to see backdated grants or even tax relief to acknowledge and assist Covid related investments, which have enabled these sectors to continue operating where staff cannot work from home.

For the longer term, we are entering an exciting period where the environmental agenda and the expertise of industry are converging to help the country achieve its net-zero ambitions. Skills development is already high on the government’s agenda as is innovation and both areas should continue to form part of the Chancellor’s financial strategy.

Bob Borthwick, director, Scott Bros

Generally, the chancellor needs to put some incentives in place that will support the hospitality and leisure industry, which has been one of the sectors hardest hit, so it can recover and once again begin to thrive. Any reduction in VAT would also help stimulate the economy, giving people the confidence to go out and spend.

As a family-run firm involved in the circular economy, Scott Bros would also welcome any measures that incentives the recycling and reuse of materials.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, CEO, Hellens Group

Boris has announced his roadmap out of lockdown, now, Rishi needs to set out his economic roadmap. Businesses need to be able to plan for the next 12 months and for that to happen they require some clarity.

In November, the chancellor announced the £4bn Levelling-Up Fund but we have had no further detail since. It has the potential to be transformational for the north and could be one of the few positive changes to come out of the Covid-19 crisis.

Let’s also hope that one or both the regional offices for the Treasury or the UK Infrastructures Bank comes to the North-East or Tees Valley. And at least one successful Freeport bid in either the North-East or Tees Valley. Why not award two to our region? This would represent a real statement of intent by the government to level things up.

Martin Anderson, managing director, Lemon Business Solutions

As the managing director of a North-East-based contact centre, we are looking to the chancellor to hold off on any corporate tax rises until the recovery is well underway, thus allowing us time and space to invest in, and grow, our business in what we anticipate being a period of exponential growth in the outsourcing sector, which will ultimately help us deliver growth, prosperity and jobs to the Tees Valley region.

Karl Pemberton, managing director, Active Chartered Financial Planners

This Budget gives the chancellor the opportunity to properly reward the hard-working, frontline workers who have given their all in the last 12 months.

But equally, he needs to work towards balancing the books and to do so without tax rises that stifle business growth at a time when we need the private sector to bounce back.

Slow and steady wins the race and any changes he implements should be gradual and sustainable.