What British industry wants in the Budget
UK industry bodies have been lobbying hard for measures in this week's Budget to help their members survive the recession. Here is a selection of the pre-Budget submissions made to Chancellor Alistair Darling in recent weeks.
CBI: The business lobby group wants the Chancellor to deliver on a pledge to speed up public sector building in order to support the construction industry and safeguard jobs. Deputy director-general John Cridland said: "A strong economy requires fit-for-purpose schools, hospitals, communications and transport. A failure to maintain and renew the nation's essential infrastructure would be short-sighted."
It is also urging Darling to come up with a "clear and credible strategy" to get the public sector finances back under control and warned that a further significant fiscal stimulus was unaffordable.
EEF: The manufacturers' organisation wants a focus on short-term measures that will minimise costs on businesses, as well as alleviate cashflow pressures and support long-term investment. In light of previous changes to the tax system, which has created a "less favourable" environment for investment, the EEF is calling for a temporary increase in the annual investment allowance from £50,000 to £250,000.
Chief economist Steve Radley welcomed the recent move to stagger the increase in Business rates but in the meantime he said acute pressures threatened to undo the "great strides" made by manufacturers in recent years. He said: "Without further action we risk further hollowing out of the supply chain and the loss of viable companies in key sectors."
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT): In addition to ongoing calls for improved access to finance and credit and a scrappage incentive scheme to stimulate demand, the industry body is calling for further measures aimed at increasing sales across the car and commercial vehicle markets. This includes the removal or delay of the planned introduction of a first year rate of tax on new cars and the deferral of the new CO2-based business car capital allowance regime to 2010/11 to avoid tightening the squeeze on cash flow for business car users.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: "The UK motor industry is reaching a state of emergency and the rate of government action is crucial to the future success of the sector."
British Chambers of Commerce: The business lobby group is calling for a form of government guarantee scheme for credit insurance, which will ease the difficult conditions small- and medium-sized firms are operating in. Businesses use the insurance to cover themselves against the risk that they will not be paid for the goods they supply - but many insurers have hiked premiums or withdrawn from high-risk markets altogether.
David Frost, BCC director general, also wants short-term measures to boost cash-flow: "It will be business that drives the economy forward, creating jobs and wealth. Their importance to the country cannot be ignored."
Unite: The union believes the government must not shy away from continuing to invest through economic stimulus packages. "It would be a catastrophic mistake to reign in investment," it said. The key part of its submission to the Chancellor involves short time working compensation schemes in order to save thousands of manufacturing jobs.
Unite's joint general secretary, Tony Woodley said: "Unite and manufacturing employers often don't see eye to eye but on this issue we are united. British manufacturing needs urgent, strategic and effective support from the government."