Budget 2021: Liverpool City Region LEP and Sector Boards on what they want to see from the Chancellor in tomorrow’s Budget

Posted 2nd March 2021
14 minutes read
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Asif Hamid MBE, Liverpool City Region LEP Chair has set out the asks of the Chancellor from the LEP’s sector Boards ahead of Wednesday’s budget statement:

“Wednesday’s budget is one of the most important to our economy of recent times and its vital that our businesses, who have done so much to keep the economy working over the last year, and those who have been impacted most by the pandemic, are given the incentives and backing they need to drive the UK’s recovery and growth in the year ahead.

“I have asked a number of our business leaders from our Sector Growth Boards to share their views about what they would like to see from Government to support the growth of each of our sectors over the coming year. Amongst some specifics, what comes across loud and clear is the need for extension of the furlough scheme and other support across a wide range of sectors to enable business to open up as the markets recover over the coming months.”

John McDonald, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Advanced Manufacturing “Making It” Board

“Manufacturing is recovering from the twin hits of Brexit and COVID 19 and it would be disastrous for the Chancellor to raise Corporation Tax at this critical moment in the recovery.

“Grant the Liverpool City Region Freeport status to attract Foreign Direct Investment opportunities in key supply chains (automotive, biomanufacturing and chemicals).

“UK Manufacturers are out of regulatory alignment following Brexit, so the Government needs a mechanism for EU Regulatory Tracking, Monitoring and Support for manufacturers, in particular SME’s who are time and resource constrained.

“The UK Government must set strong policies and create enough certainty for a good trading environment by producing a detailed Industrial Strategy. SMEs have limited resources and are trailing behind with productivity and digitalisation. They will need support from the Government to help meet their critical needs: an investment and capitalisation programme to help with automation and wider adoption of digital technology, a skills programme aligned with the technologies of the future and a greater focus on digital as well as physical infrastructure.

“A sizeable proportion of innovation spending related to manufacturing should be ring-fenced for the North of England as part of the Governments levelling up agenda. Manufacturing makes up a higher percentage of the economy in Northern areas (including the LCR).

“Simplify customs documentation for imports / exports – higher costs, administrative burdens and time delays are significant barriers to trade with the EU post-Brexit and this is our largest trading partner.

“Tax cuts or rebates for three years to help firms cope with the additional costs of EU export paperwork.”

Steve Stuart, Chair of the Professional and Business Services Board said:

“Many businesses have relied on government support to see them through the past year and we ask that the wide-ranging support continues to help protect jobs and build confidence as we look forward to the reopening of various sectors within the economy. Let’s focus incentives to help businesses to reopen with confidence and ensure the government’s investment to date does not go to waste.

“We call on the Government to continue to support businesses through the year ahead:
• Continue support including cash grants and furlough and look to incentivise businesses to bring employees back after furlough
• Maintain the tax benefits in place such as the lower 5% VAT on hospitality and leisure for another 12 months to incentivise venues to reopen and help them to build back trade
• Extend business rates relief and consult with business to explore improvements to provide certainty to growing businesses
• Do not introduce any significant changes to CGT or corporation tax
• We welcome the tax consultations in March announced by Treasury and encourage tax professionals to use the opportunity to get involved in the policy-making process.
• Maximise job creation programmes including Kickstart and digital bootcamps to help upskill
• Engage with northern businesses to identify areas to improve patient capital to support the levelling up agenda
• Create more public support I the area of seed capital for young growing knowledge-based businesses.”

Graham Bond, member of the Professional and Business Services Board and RSM’s office managing partner in Liverpool, said:

“As we look ahead to this week’s Budget, Liverpool businesses will be hoping for urgent support to tackle the acute Brexit and Covid-19 pressure; longer-term commitment to strengthen the industrial base in the North with skills, tax incentives and job creation at the heart of any policy changes; and improvements in digital connectivity to support the future growth of the region.”

Paul Corcoran, Co-Chair of the Digital & Creative Board, Deputy Chair of the LEP Board and CEX of Agent Marketing said:

“What the Digital and Creative sector wants is greater tax relief in relation to digital transformation investments alongside grant and funds made available so that businesses can get their digital infrastructure in place enabling them to future proof their organisations. We also need to see the development of a significant national fund to support innovative businesses and start-up funding for businesses and entrepreneurs to enable this sector to grow during these unprecedented times.

“As more and more high value jobs are being created in the digital age in which we live in we need support in training for these jobs. I would like to see the Kickstart scheme enhanced to focus on high value jobs; as well as enhancing the financial offer to businesses looking at taking on higher level apprenticeships.”

Peter Grieve, Chair of the Built Environment Board and Operations Director Robertson North West, said:

“Invest in education, training and skills for the necessary green skills that will be required across the construction sector”

“It is essential that as we build a better way forward out of COVID, that the Government create a Budget that addresses many of the challenges we have seen over the past year. The impacts of the pandemic and the concerns relating to climate change can’t be underestimated, the call would be for the Chancellor to invest where we need, to create policies that allow for growth, whilst meeting targets for decarbonisation by 2050.

“There is a race to net-zero and the construction industry has a vital role to play. There will be an increasing need for green skills across the sector, whether it be retrofitting existing housing stock or embracing off-site modular with Modern Methods Construction for new build.

“I would like to see a Budget that invests in training and education programmes and funds apprenticeship opportunities for the skills of the future. The recent problems around the Green Homes Grant highlighted skills gaps, we need a Budget that sees the UK economy develop the necessary low-carbon skills for the green agenda and levels up to support communities that have been hit the hardest during the pandemic.”

Laura Pye, Chair of the Visitor Economy Board and Director National Museums Liverpool, said:

“The Liverpool City Region’s Visitor Economy has been significantly impacted by Covid 19 and we expect the budget to maintain the current reductions in VAT and extend the furlough scheme. It is essential that these ongoing fiscal means are set in place over the next 12 months to allow businesses to build back their reserves of working capital and manage the debt they have accrued since the start of the pandemic. Coupled with additional funding from DCMS for ongoing business support and the devolved funds to stimulate demand will also be a significant step in supporting local recovery plans.”

Melinda Acutt, member of the Clean Growth Board and Director at ICS Consulting, said:

“From a Clean Growth Perspective to meet climate change targets for decarbonisation it would be good to see a Budget that has focus on the following:

“Given the very short timeline needed for action we need a focus on enabling shovel ready projects and technologies rather than longer term more blue-sky innovation and technologies

“Example projects include focus on home insulation and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, funding for councils to switch to lower carbon LED lighting and alternatively-fuelled public transport as well as the promotion of active travel – ie support for proven technology activities that can make a big difference here and now – that are the lowest cost over the longer term but the initial outlay is prohibitive for cash-strapped local authorities, homes and businesses already overstretched dealing with COVID-19.

“Following the Government’s 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution we are looking for a budget that uses the fiscal and public spending levers to drive the change necessary to tackle climate change and support low carbon, green businesses”

Peter Timmins, Chair of the health and Life Science Board said:

“We’re hoping that Government will commit to level up their investment in Health and Life Sciences in the Northern region, relative to the significant investments that have been made recently in the South East.

“We hope that the Government maintains its commitment to invest 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027 alongside their already expressed strong support of the biotech/biomedical industry.

“The recent Strength in Places funding that supports the “Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON) lead by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine brings together the largest concentration of infectious diseases research in the UK and capitalised on the regions track record in working on active translational programmes in vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics and antiviral formulations. This investment along with the successful and vibrant life science/ biotech/biopharma R&D and manufacturing community gives us real strength in this area and we hope the government continue to support us to sustain and build on these existing strengths that we have here in the Liverpool City Region.

“We also hope that Government continues to recognise the innovative role that the Liverpool City Region have played in the pandemic, from vaccine development, clinical trials, mass testing, our well recognised experience in infectious diseases through our universities and our strong industry base supporting in the anti-viral/anti-infective space.”