IoD: Budget must unleash entrepreneurialism across the UK

The IoD has urged the new Government to unleash entrepreneurialism across the UK, in its Budget submission published today.

The directors’ organisation called on the Chancellor to boost investment in dynamic start-ups and scale-ups through targeted reliefs and extra incentives aimed at new companies outside London and the South East. Alongside pressing ahead with upgrades to broadband, rail and roads, other recommendations to boost innovation include helping the country’s world-class universities collaborate more with local small and mid-sized firms.

To help smaller firms adjust to the post-Brexit landscape and capitalise on potential trading opportunities, the IoD pressed the Treasury to issue Brexit planning vouchers, launch a new ‘Single Window’ to streamline import and export procedures, and widen take-up of the Government’s Export Finance and Tradeshow Access Programme.

The submission to the Chancellor also called for measures to ease the high costs businesses face, including a business rate holiday for firms who improve or expand their premises. With survey data showing that around 1 in 3 IoD members said a reduction in the regulatory burden was an immediate priority, the IoD said the Government should go further and faster on its promised ‘EU Red Tape Challenge’ by extending it to cover domestic regulation, starting with a delay to IR35.

Tej Parikh, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:

“After years of parliamentary upheaval, businesses are undoubtedly enthused by the prospect of a Budget that can set out a clear, long-term vision for our economy.

“The Prime Minister has talked about ‘levelling up’ the regions. Long-overdue upgrades to broadband, rail and roads will be crucial, but the Government also needs to create the conditions for companies to take risks and innovate today to raise our game on productivity and sustainability. Boosting investment in new and growing firms is key, as is ensuring they have the skills they need to thrive. We can also do more to  leverage the role our world-class universities play in their local economies by better connecting them with innovative businesses.

“The other side of the coin for business is cost. Sky high business rates, hefty regulation, and the wider complexity of the tax system are some of the biggest thorns in the side of growing companies. Action from the Treasury to clear the path for businesses to grow will provide a vital uplift to the economy.”

Further detail on the IoD’s Budget recommendations:

  • Boost funding for scale-ups and start-ups by easing restrictions on the Government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme, doubling the maximum company investment threshold on the former.
  • Encourage wider investment by extending the £1million Annual Investment Allowance beyond 2020, and creating an additional tax incentive for SMEs investing in their productivity and sustainability.
  • Cut costs by introducing business rates holidays for firms improving or expanding their premises.
  • Widen the scope of the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ to domestic legislation, including by delaying the implementation of IR35 and the Digital Services Tax.
  • Broaden the scope of courses under the Apprenticeship Levy, and introduce tax incentives to support retraining.
  • Invest in regional business support hubs and encourage stronger links between universities and local businesses for instance through extra funding for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.
  • Deliver more targeted financial assistance for Brexit planning and adjustment, either by making such activity tax-deductible for SMEs, or by introducing a voucher scheme (akin to Irish, Dutch, and French governments).
  • Lower the minimum threshold for UK content in contracts eligible for UK Export Finance’s assistance, and provide training on the new Incoterms 2020 changes.