The Chancellor needs to act “quickly and decisively” in his pre-Budget report to help businesses during the recession according to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce - highlighting the particular plight of the commercial property sector.
Katie Teasdale, the BCI’s senior policy adviser, said Alistair Darling had an opportunity to ease the burden on business in the face of the credit crunch and worsening economic outlook.
She said: “The pre-Budget report has assumed a new importance and Birmingham - and the rest of the UK - will be looking for government to deliver.
“This is a real opportunity to ameliorate the extent of the recession and its impact on employers and their staff. But they will need to act quickly and decisively.
“Birmingham and Solihull’s businesses will be looking to see the Chancellor make good on the rumours of tax cuts and increased capital spend floated about the media over the past week.”
Ms Teasdale said that one of the issues that the Chancellor needed to tackle immediately was the issue of rate relief for empty commercial properties.
She said: “We will need to see a number of crucial measures implemented immediately, including a reintroduction of empty property tax relief. The decision to remove tax relief has forced many firms to demolish properties as they struggle to keep up with rate payments.
“This is clearly unacceptable, not least because of the very profound impact it is having on regeneration schemes and businesses already enduring hardship.”
During the last month the Chancellor has hinted that a package of other tax cuts may be announced in the pre-Budget report, measures that would go down well with the Chamber.
“We are also urging the government to reassess its taxation regime,” she said. “Clearly, any plans to increase fuel duty should be abandoned and the increase in Small Companies’ Rate should be reversed. We also need to see the Government proactively ensuring that small businesses have the financing they need to survive the credit crunch.
“We welcomed last week’s announcement regarding AWM’s £4 million Transition Loan Fund, but the banks need to be held to account to play their part. Withdrawn export credit insurance will prevent our firms from exporting to higher risk destinations and new customers. The government needs to exert pressure on banks, insurers and other partners to ensure access to this sort of financing immediately so our businesses can continue to export.”