Autumn Statement is a real chance to rekindle UK's economic momentum: Beckie Hart

Last Tuesday, politicians from across the spectrum assembled in Westminster to hear King Charles tell us about the Government’s priorities for the months ahead at his inaugural King’s Speech.

With less than two weeks to go until the Autumn Statement, businesses across Yorkshire and the Humber kept their ears pricked to get a sense of what to expect in the months ahead.

Business leaders welcomed some of the announcements, with many seeing the speech as an opportunity to inject some much-needed momentum into the economy.

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Alongside action to speed up grid connections, firms were pleased to hear about the Government’s ambition to advance autonomous vehicle technology through future-focused regulation.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is due to deliver an Autumn Statement this month. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA WireChancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is due to deliver an Autumn Statement this month. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is due to deliver an Autumn Statement this month. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

But, with growth continuing to stagnate, most businesses were hoping for a bit more of a focus on the economy. That’s why all eyes are now on the upcoming Autumn Statement. It’s a real chance to rekindle the UK’s economic momentum.

Whether it’s action to unlock business investment, deliver an internationally competitive business environment or capture high growth opportunities – we’ve got plenty of avenues to build on our prospects.

We want the UK to be considered a top destination for firms to invest, to grow, to call their home. So, one of our asks ahead of the Autumn Statement, is to extend full capital expensing beyond the current three-year window. That would give firms greater certainty, and more confidence to sign off on investment decisions.

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At the CBI, we’ve long campaigned for this lever that could free up significant amounts of business investment and drive UK growth.

Beckie Hart has her say.Beckie Hart has her say.
Beckie Hart has her say.

According to CBI research, making capital expensing permanent could deliver a staggering 21 per cent boost to business investment and add up to 2 per cent to GDP by 2030/2031. It’s a chance we can’t afford to miss.

And there are plenty of other measures the Chancellor can enact to support firms.

Like finally setting out a response to US President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

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We need a comprehensive Net Zero Investment Plan – including a targeted ‘green’ super-deduction to incentivise firms to invest in green growth here in the UK. Or on health – businesses continue to be hard pressed by labour market shortages.

Earlier this year, the amount of people out of a job due to long-term sickness hit another record high – with almost half a million out of work for health reasons.

That’s why we’re calling on the Chancellor to expand non-taxable health support for employees, by making all Employee Assistance Programmes a fully tax-free benefit.

A short two days before the Autumn Statement, we’re looking forward to hosting business leaders and other stakeholders at our ‘General Election Countdown’ event in Westminster.

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Alongside a senior cabinet minister and the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, delegates will hear from some of the brilliant businesses that are driving innovation and growth across the country.

At such a crucial juncture for the country and with a general election now looming large, we’re thrilled to be providing a vital platform to raise the voice of business.

Support for enterprise holds the key to driving growth and improving living standards right across the country.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be on the front foot in making sure businesses in our region are heard loud and clear in Westminster and beyond.

Beckie Hart is Yorkshire and Humber regional director for the CBI