'Give us what we want, George!': Kent firms in plea to Chancellor George Osborne on Budget day
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne stands up in the
House of Commons at 12.30pm today with a bulging wish list ringing
in his ears.
With virtually nil growth, the UK losing its prized triple-A
rating, rising inflation and wage freezes, he is in an
uncomfortable place - with many critics calling for his
But Mr Osborne (pictured right) will tough it out amid a welter
of disappointing data, giving with one hand and taking back with
another in a Budget set against a bleak economic backdrop.
There will be little room for generous giveaways, apart perhaps
to working parents for childcare costs.
Kent firms are calling for a cut in employers' National
Insurance contributions in a bid to boost the economy.
Kent-based McBrides Chartered Accountants said a cut in
employment costs would boost confidence of businesses and
Tax partner Terry Baldwin, from Tonbridge, said cashflow was the
biggest concern of many clients.
"Making sure that bank finance is more readily available, at
realistic prices is crucial. We also need to see an increase in the
amount of funds delivered to businesses through government backed
The Country Landowners Association (CLA) called on the
Chancellor to cut value added tax on rural tourism from 20% to
It accused the government of allowing investment in the UK's
sixth largest industry to slide, and driving it almost to the
bottom of the world league on
tourism taxes. The UK ranks sixth in the world as a destination but
135th out of 139 on taxes applied to tourism.
CLA south east director Robin Edwards said visitors to the
county were taxed "to the hilt" and there had been a significant
failure at national level to provide strategic leadership with
government spending on tourism falling by 25% between 2001 and
VAT was "prohibitively high" and made a holiday here far more
expensive than elsewhere. The CLA is also calling for any plans for
a future "bed tax" – a charge levied on a per person per night
basis – to be ditched describing it as a short term financial
fix that would do long term damage to the industry.
Kent B&B owner Maggie Berry said: "Small businesses, such as
breakfast accommodation providers, put billions into the rural
economy supporting local employment, foods and attractions.
"In tough economic times we need to be allowed to work to a
level playing field with the rest of Europe by bringing down the
VAT rates for tourism.
"The government should also be reducing Air Passenger Duty and
easier and cheaper for overseas visitors to get travel visas."
The Federation for Small Businesses in Kent and Medway is
calling for better access to finance, simpler taxation, an enhanced
National Insurance contributions holiday, more resources for new
exporters, more support for enterprise, lower energy prices,
and greater access to public sector contracts, with prompter
For political analysis on how the Budget affects Kent, follow
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