Belfast Telegraph

Firms call on Chancellor to cut NI corporation tax

By Margaret Canning

Cutting Northern Ireland's corporation tax rate should be top of the Chancellor's Budget agenda tomorrow, businesses have said.

Just under 70% of who were surveyed by business advisory firm Goldblatt McGuigan on what they want from the Chancellor and what they want from the Executive said creating a special corporation tax status for Northern Ireland should be the top priority for the Government.

Just under half (48%) of the businesses surveyed put a reduction in corporation tax as one of the top three things they want the Chancellor to do to benefit their business.

But others were conscious of the effects of consumer confidence on their business fortunes with figures out today expected to show a rise in the consumer prices index to 4.2%.

Reflecting the increased pressures on consumer spending, 43% of the 165 firms interviewed saying that they wanted a cut in income tax to stimulate spending.

Just over one third wanted financial incentives for job creation.

And firms were also feeling the pinch of increased operating costs, particularly the strain of growing fuel prices.

Around one third called on Mr Osborne to cancel the planned 5p rise in fuel duty and just under 30% wanted a reduction in the level of VAT on fuel.

Over a half wanted to see Northern Ireland given enterprise zone status, with the same amount also wanted to see the Government encouraging the banks to lend more to small businesses. Goldblatt McGuigan managing partner Sam Goldblatt, said: "It will come as no surprise to see business calling on the Chancellor to reduce corporation tax and to give Northern Ireland a special corporation tax status.

"Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that an announcement about a special status is in the offing.

"If Wednesday brings developments on this front it will be a momentous Budget indeed.

"It is interesting to note that over a third of the businesses surveyed want to see financial incentives being introduced for the creation of new jobs.

"While the call for financial support could be predicted, the underlying suggestion that 37% of businesses would contemplate creating jobs if incentives were introduced must surely indicate an improvement in market conditions, at least in some segments of the business sector.

"And although the major banks are continually telling us that their lending rates to business are rising, the survey findings would appear to highlight continuing difficulties for those seeking finance with over half calling for the Government to proactively encourage bank lending to business."

Firms surveyed in the research also said more public services should be outsourced to the private sector.

Full findings are available at