CBI director-general John Cridland has called for a focus on supporting R&D and infrastructure in the Autumn Statement

CBI calls for infrastructure and R&D support in Autumn Statement

Infrastructure investment and encouraging innovation should be the key focus of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, according to the CBI.

The business lobby group wants to see a final decision on the guarantee for Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset, as well as a tunnel under Stonehenge to relieve congestion to the south-west and efforts to maintain momentum on the current upgrade to the A14 in East Anglia.

The CBI would like to see the research and development tax credit given a major boost to incentivise the domestic development, commercialisation and manufacture of ideas in the UK, as well as a prioritising of government spending on science and the network of catapult centres, which are designed to promote technology development.

"The UK recovery is on solid ground but it is in increasingly stark contrast to what's happening elsewhere in the world. With eurozone economies flat-lining, continuing political tension between Russia and Ukraine, and in the Middle East, and slowing emerging markets, we must be alert to the possible knock-on effects here," said CBI director-general John Cridland.

"Businesses recognise the public purse is under pressure, which is why they want the government to continue tackling the deficit, alongside targeted, affordable measures to keep UK growth motoring now, in the next Parliament, and beyond.

"We know firms are concerned about the state of our roads and energy supply and affordability, so the arrowhead of business recommendations is a major push on improving the country's infrastructure. Businesses want to see the government set out clear project plans, with start dates and timescales."

The body also wants a reform of business rates so that they are based on the Consumer Prices Index rather than the Retail Price Index, alongside raising the threshold for smaller properties and more frequent property valuations, and also a freeze on airport passenger duty tax for long-haul flights.

The targetted proposals would cost "a modest £676m in 2015/16, paid for through public services reform and departmental savings", according to the CBI.

Cridland added: "We also want to see the government encourage innovation and enterprise by reforming the outdated business rates system, which is a disincentive to company expansion, alongside expanding the R&D tax credit to encourage development, as well as research activity, in the UK.

"And freezing long-haul airport passenger duty would help more firms in all UK regions and nations, particularly smaller ones, export their products and services to new growth markets around the world, like Mexico and Indonesia."

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