Chancellor Philip Hammond must come up with £2 billion in this month’s budget to help businesses prepare for life after Brexit, say industry leaders.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on Mr Hammond to set the cash aside to increase investment, improve skills and cut business rates.
Mr Hammond will deliver the budget on October 29, the last before the UK is scheduled to depart from the EU.
The CBI, which represents leaders of British businesses, said it was time for the Chancellor to put “warm words” into practice.
In a plea to the Treasury, the CBI said Britain was already at the bottom of the G7 economic league table and Brexit was making things worse.
CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said the budget was a “pivotal moment” for British businesses.
She added: “Entrepreneurs here and around the world need to see a UK committed to harnessing the power of business to innovate and tackle problems.
The CBI wants changes to business rates to boost investment, including:
- One year of rate relief for firms renovating premises.
- Lowering business rates when property prices go down.
They are also demanding that the annual investment allowance rises from £200,000 to £500,000 and that Government prioritises technology sector growth.
Mr Hammond has already hinted that he will change the apprenticeship levy to help businesses. The CBI has welcomed this but said more is needed.
Ms Fairbairn admitted that businesses had not invested enough in recent years, but that this was because the economic conditions were not right.
She added: “By investing in workers, equipment and, crucially, digital and new technologies, the UK can establish itself in pole position for the future.”
The CBI claims that its plans would cost less than 0.2 per cent of forecast government spending – around £1.5bn in 2019-20 and £2bn in 2020-21.