Companies in the South West are holding their breath prior to tomorrow’s Budget.
They are fearful that there may be a rise in corporation tax from 19% which would hit any plans they have for investment.
I hope Rishi Sunak avoids raising the tax and sticks to the knitting of supporting the COVID recovery which he has done so well up until now.
It now seems clear that the furlough scheme will be extended in his speech. But one big question remains: How long for?
He should extend it to the summer at least to allow companies to get back on their feet.
Business rates must be addressed too. This is an iniquitous tax with no benefit to companies.
At the weekend, the Chancellor announced grants totalling £5bn to the hard hit hospitality sector and the High Street.
But this really is small beer. A cut in business rates would be far better all round, but the omens for reduction don’t look good.
We must also realise that many of our businesses in hospitality and on the high street are literally in intensive care and these grants will not start going out from councils until later in April.
How many of these companies can survive that long?
It looks as though our young people may be given a lifeline with a cash injection for apprenticeships with trainees enabled to work in multiple companies.
The current £2,000 payments to firms to take on 16–24-year-olds is just not enough.
These are taxing times, but Rishi Sunak must not slam on the brakes with any measures that hit the recovery of business.
We are holding our breath.