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A ‘budget for growth’

Sponsored feature | By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID

Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID. Picture: Richard Marsham
Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID. Picture: Richard Marsham

Businesses have cautiously welcome the wide range of measures announced last Friday (September 23). The reversal of the 1.25 per cent national insurance rise, the scrapping of the planned six percentage-point increase in corporation tax, the introduction of a new tax-free shopping scheme for tourists and plans to unblock the glacial planning system for infrastructure projects are all very positive.

This coupled with the earlier announcement of a six-month energy cap for businesses should give some comfort to businesses facing inflationary pressures from all sides and should allow them to trade through what will hopefully be a strong Christmas period and into 2023.

The tax-free shopping scheme is a particular boost to Cambridge since we are very dependent on the visitor economy. This should encourage more high spending US, Middle Eastern and, when able to, Chinese visitors to visit here. The way the pound is trading means it will remain good value to visit here for some time - but this tax-free scheme is needed now, not in 2024 as planned.

But more is required - a reduction in the rate of VAT for businesses to 12.5 per cent would have been good, as would more plans to allow more seasonal workers into the country or boost the numbers of workers in the economy since we currently have more vacancies than people unemployed.

We also await more information on the low tax zones. I see Norfolk and Suffolk both mentioned but not Cambridgeshire, let’s hope we can join up the whole Eastern region on this. There are also plans to accelerate the Cambridge South railway station and East West Rail, but unlike many other combined authorities around the country there seems to be little mention of further support for any Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority plans.

Then, of course is the question of who pays for all of this - well, we do, the government does not have any money, it is borrowing in our name and the sums are huge. They say a new PM should start bold and go big early, well she has certainly done that.

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