Member Article

Covid-19 support tops Budget wish list for Bristol

Bristol businesses want the Chancellor to give top priority to pandemic support measures in the upcoming Budget, according to a new national survey from Grant Thornton UK LLP.

Some 50% of companies in the area think Rishi Sunak should focus on helping firms cope with the impact of COVID-19, well above the national average in the survey, 27%. Bristol companies chose it over more business growth (26%) or general recovery measures (18%).

Of the current schemes that local leaders would most like extended, the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme tops the list (40%), followed by Business Rates Holidays (38%) and HMRC’s Time to Pay Service (38%). When asked what policies they would most like to see introduced to drive growth, Bristol business leaders ranked improving infrastructure (54%), support with digital transformation (38%) and help for employers who want to invest in R&D (38%) as the issues they most want the Government to focus on.

The research also identifies a national uptick in optimism since the end of 2020, with 80% of businesses surveyed feeling optimistic about the outlook of the UK economy over the next six months, an 18 percentage point increase compared to December last year.

Jonathan Riley, tax partner and practice leader for Bristol at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “We are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel and a likely driver for the increase in optimism is the ongoing success of the UK vaccine programme and the Bank of England’s predictions of a strong economic recovery.

“The pandemic has hit parts of the Bristol economy hard and areas such as the aerospace supply chain are now operating in a very different market context. Though we’re currently still in a lockdown and businesses are prioritising health and safety, business leaders are planning for the mid to long term future. It is important that the government capitalises on this optimism as a driver for growth and backs business in the right way. For our region that means extending COVID-19 support measures or introducing new ones, and maintaining the current rate of corporation tax.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Helena Young .

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