Rising business rates and plans for growth top the wish list from businesses ahead of the Autumn Statement on Thursday.
While support for energy bills is already making an impact, firms want longer term and wider support to survive rising inflation, staffing and running costs as dire predictions warn of the longest recession since records began.
The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to unveil his Autumn Statement on Thursday, November 17, put back from the original October 31 Halloween date to allow for in-depth decisions of where the axe will fall.
The country has been warned of difficult decisions ahead with every person expected to pay more tax and massive spending cuts across Government departments.
Financial analysts have been looking at what announcements are likely to be made.
BusinessLive has pulled together the main priorities facing businesses, from fuel duty to business rates.
The Energy Bill Relief Scheme is due to end in April for all but the most vulnerable businesses. So what next for businesses that are still facing skyrocketing bills amid a recession?
New analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that food and drink service firms were more likely than any other sector to cut opening hours to deal with mammoth increases in energy bills.
And a new survey by British Chambers of Commerce has revealed that almost half of small and medium-sized firms will face difficulty paying their energy bills when Government support ends, research suggests.
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said energy costs are the number one business concern.
She said: "While current Government support is welcome, there is a cliff-edge looming, and firms will struggle to see beyond it. They need certainty on what will happen in April so they can plan with increased confidence.
“Government should not forget those businesses that will not benefit from a new energy package but will continue to require support once the current scheme ends.”
A Treasury-led review is set to consider how to support businesses from April 2023.
READ THIS NEXT: What to expect in Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement on tax rises, NI and cuts
THE AA is leading calls for the Chancellor to extend the 5p cut in fuel duty amid the “nightmare” of high costs for motorists.
The AA said when then-chancellor Rishi Sunak announced earlier this year that the 5p fuel duty cut represented the biggest cut ever, it was set to remain in place until March 2023.
The motoring organisation is pushing for the reduction to be extended beyond March due to the continued high pump prices and the cost-of-living crisis.
The AA said that with petrol now in the region of 165p a litre and diesel close to 190p, this compares with 167.3p and 179.7p a litre just before the fuel duty cut.
Petrol, even with 5p off fuel duty, is close to where it was when Mr Sunak decided to act, and diesel is “even more of a nightmare” for drivers and businesses, said the AA.
Hospitality businesses will face a £3.6 billion bill next April if business rates increase in line with inflation and current relief is ended, UKHospitality has warned.
The bill would be an increase of £900 million, on top of the £2.7 billion the sector currently pays in business rates.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls is urging the Chancellor to extend current business rates relief for the entire sector and ditch any plans to increase rates in line with inflation.
The trade body warns that increased rates bill of this scale will prove fatal for many businesses.
Ms Nicholls said: “Our sector has such potential to expand, deliver economic growth and support fantastic careers, but it is simply unable to do so with more and more cost being put on it at a time of national crisis.
“If the Government wants to prove it’s on the side of business and drive investment, it won’t go ahead with a business rates hike that will devastate hospitality businesses."
A revaluation of commercial property values is due in April 2023. Matthew Fell, CBI Chief Policy Director, is warning of a cliff-edge for firms.
He said: “We are asking Government to smooth the looming Business Rates cliff edge; without intervention, the eye-watering rises scheduled for April will present an existential threat for many businesses which communities depend on."
Green growth and investment
A new poll of growth stage firms has revealed that tax policies to promote investment are at the top of the wishlist.
The poll, conducted by equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, shows that firms want to see the renewal or replacement of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) beyond 2025.
The extension of the scheme, which uses tax breaks to incentivise investment into entrepreneurial companies, was promised announced as part of Kwasi Kwarteng's September’s fiscal event. It is a decision that has not been reversed in the subsequent revisions made by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt.
Subsidised training and upskilling initiatives is another popular idea, with more than a quarter (26%) of businesses saying they would like to see the government introduce more supply side measures of this nature to boost productivity.
However, despite this desire for growth and productivity, safeguarding the environment is paramount to fast-growing businesses. The second biggest priority behind extending EIS, was found to be greater incentives for investment that does not harm the environment, a policy that was in the top three priorities of 53% of the founders surveyed.
Darren Westlake, CEO and co-founder of Crowdcube, said: ““Many of our country’s most successful and respected ventures would not exist were it not for the conditions that successive administrations have put in place to encourage risk and entrepreneurialism. Even if, in order to reassure the markets, the lion’s share of the Chancellor’s announcements will need to be contractionary, these conditions must be maintained."
He said that the 50 founders recently polled were sanguine about tax rises.
He added: "Productivity-enhancing investment in skills and infrastructure, while subsidising green corporate investment, were – in their eyes – far more important than keeping corporation and income tax low.
“While prudence is the order of the day, an overly hawkish Autumn statement risks extinguishing our ability to take advantage of my sector’s potential before the opportunity has even presented itself."
Skills, apprenticeships and immigration
The CBI is calling for a fresh look at immigration to help ease staff shortages that is stifling growth.
It wants to see the use of 'existing flexibility in the immigration system' to help firms access the people and skills they need.
And it wants an updated Shortage Occupation List that allows for more overseas workers to fill vacancies, including student and graduate visa routes, and introducing visas linked to specific economic projects.
It also wants a focus on upskilling and retraining including transforming the Apprenticeship Levy into a flexible Skills Challenge Fund.
The wishlist is among a number of CBI proposals, which also includes long term tax reform to match new high corporation tax with investment allowances for firms who invest in the economy, as well as continued use of the Government balance sheet to create markets and stimulate further green investment by the private sector.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, is calling for reform of the Apprenticeship scheme to prevent 'missed employment opportunities, missed training, and missed career progression.'
The [retail] industry needs a higher skilled, more productive, and better paid workforce but this broken system is holding this back. Government must make the Levy more flexible so retailers can use the funds for high quality pre-employment courses, short in-work developmental courses and to cover other costs related to training their people.”
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