Use Autumn Statement to get the West moving, building and growng, Bishop Fleming tell Osborne

November 28, 2012

Chancellor George Osborne needs to bring in measures to boost housebuilding, halt spiralling transport costs and simplify taxes for small firms if he wants the region’s businesses to help deliver the economic recovery.

The plea has come from tax and business experts at Bishop Fleming, the South West accountancy firm with a major office in Bristol, ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement next Tuesday.

Managing partner Matthew Lee, pictured, said: “This region’s economic potential is huge, but it can only be unleashed if the Chancellor announces steps that will make a real difference to the stalled housebuilding industry and rein back on spiralling transport costs.

“The West has Britain’s worst housing crisis, at a time when the construction industry is not working and would-be homebuyers cannot find an affordable mortgage to get the housing market – crucial for the economy – back on track.

He urges Mr Osborne to bring in a ‘holiday’ for Stamp Duty payments on home sales to first-time buyers and an injection of ‘cheap money’ to building societies for low-cost mortgages.

“The other big barrier to business growth in the West is the rise in transport costs, driven by fuel duty,” said Mr Lee.

“The Chancellor should announce a freeze on fuel duty increases currently planned for next year.

“Whether for commuting or transporting goods, this region is hugely reliant on road travel and fuel prices. Slowing the rate of fuel inflation would have a big impact on the region’s economy.”

Meanwhile, the West’s high number of small businesses would be able to accelerate their contribution to economic recovery if the Chancellor announces new steps to simplify their tax burdens, according to Bishop Fleming’s director of technical tax Andy Richens.

Having been seconded to the Government’s Office of Tax Simplification, he urges the Chancellor to announce:

  • A new relief for companies disincorporating;
  • A simpler income tax system for small businesses;
  • Simplification of tax for employee share schemes;
  • Continuing the work towards aligning national insurance with income tax.

Lastly, Mr Lee has other aspirations for the Chancellor’s statement.

“I believe that he will announce a general anti-avoidance abuse rule, to clamp down on immoral tax avoidance, but hope that he will not hit pension contributions,” he said. “There is talk of him removing higher-rate relief or restricting the £50,000 allowance.

"Any further constraint on pensions will fly in the face of the Government’s need for people to fund their own pensions.”

Bishop Fleming, named as Britain's fastest-growing Top 50 accountancy firm by Accountancy Age, has offices in Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay, Truro and Worcester.

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