Unfortunately, despite the hype, this Budget is largely an irrelevance. That’s not to say it doesn’t contain its share of headline grabbing announcements – it certainly does! But welcome as some of those are, the reality is that we are facing an economic growth crisis. And while 10% of the solution to that crisis may come from Budgets, for the other 90% we must look to the region’s businesses.
The simple truth is that it is businesses and not Budgets that offer us the best hope of putting things right by replacing the jobs, income and wealth lost, and generating the extra taxes needed to sort out public finances. Budget measures such as the cut in the corporation tax rate will only ever help a bit. It is how businesses respond that really matters, since they are the real engine of growth. So for the good of us all the region’s job and wealth creating businesses must now stand up and be counted as a matter of the utmost urgency.
And to help them do exactly that we have today launched the “Business Builder 2012” initiative. This is a free support initiative that uses leading-edge software, systems and thinking to help north east businesses discover new ways to create more jobs, profits and wealth. And thanks to generous sponsorship, it is both free and freely available to any business owner who wants to create a better future.” For business owners the sting in the tail from the Budget is the fact that the changes announced today look likely to give the taxman new powers to, in the words of one entrepreneur today, “bleed them dry”.
The devil will of course be in the detail. But it does seem that many taxpayers will now face a more penal and less accommodating tax system, with many reliefs and legitimate forms of tax planning no longer available to them.
Astonishingly, the Chancellor even admitted that he would be taking “five times more money each and every year from the wealthiest”. And, worryingly, many of those he is taking five times more from are the very same business leaders we need on our side.
So, to ensure that this much tougher tax regime does not discourage local businesses from becoming the engines of growth that society desperately needs them to be, we are today also launching a 2012 Tax Minimisation Review initiative. Its aim is simple: to encourage and support growth in the north east by making sure that no-one pays a single penny more than their fair share of tax. And thanks to our sponsorship it is both free and freely available to any business owner who wants to create a better future.