Belfast Telegraph

CBI calls for changes to UK's tax system

By Alan Jones

The UK Government has been urged to give a £500m Budget boost to business through a series of changes to the tax system aimed at stimulating growth.

In its submission to next month's Budget, the CBI said a 'modest' amount would help firms create jobs, invest, meet carbon commitments, and free up spending on infrastructure.

Director general John Cridland said the money was affordable, especially as the Government had found cash for weekly bin collections and freezing council tax.

The CBI called for new models of private finance on infrastructure projects, including investment by pension funds, a simpler way of taxing foreign profits, and extending the Government's youth contract to 16 and 17-year-olds.

Chancellor George Osborne was also pressed to introduce a new capital allowance to attract investment in infrastructure which does not currently qualify, such as nuclear power stations, airport terminals and waste treatment buildings.

Mr Cridland also proposed replacing the carbon reduction commitment with a new climate change levy which he said would reduce red tape while maintaining revenue for the Treasury.

He said the Chancellor appeared keen to pursue measures that targeted growth, but should do more to deliver on announcements made in last year's autumn statement rather than bring forward a raft of new measures.

"The Chancellor must use this Budget to score the growth and investment policy goals he put forward in his autumn statement.

"We're calling on the Government to make some targeted changes to the UK tax system, which could make an impact on business decisions and create new opportunities for growth.

"While the state of the public finances is tight, the Chancellor still has an opportunity in this Budget to make sure the UK tax system is as internationally competitive as it can be."

The CBI also urged the Government not to press ahead with a planned rise in air passenger duty, and said some Whitehall departments did not give as high a priority as they should to economic growth.

Mr Cridland gave the example of "visa hassles" which he said were making it difficult f to attract skilled staff.

He added that calls by shadow chancellor Ed Balls to boost the economy through additional borrowing "just wasn't affordable".