Net Zero Investment Plan could help UK outsmart likes of US, EU and China: Beckie Hart

March is upon us. That means it’s that time of the year, where all of us at the CBI, from policy experts to campaign teams have got one thing on our mind: the Spring Budget.

This Wednesday, it’s crunch time for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, in what could be his last fiscal event before the General Election.

Together with firms across Yorkshire and the Humber, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled when Hunt presents his priorities for the UK economy.

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Businesses and politicians alike are operating against a challenging economic backdrop.

Beckie Hart is regional director, Yorkshire & Humber at CBIBeckie Hart is regional director, Yorkshire & Humber at CBI
Beckie Hart is regional director, Yorkshire & Humber at CBI

But despite difficult circumstances, we can still firm up the foundations of our economic growth.

In the CBI’s Spring Budget Submission, created in collaboration with our members, we lay out the steps needed to effect meaningful progress.

Top of our list is a measure to boost both the attractiveness – and the competitiveness – of our business environment.

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Last autumn, Chancellor Hunt upped business confidence by delivering on a long-standing CBI ask – by making full expensing a permanent feature of the tax system.

A potentially transformative first step for accelerating UK growth.

But we have an opportunity to go further to support our region’s firms.

We are calling on the Government to extend full expensing to cover leased and rented assets – to attract new investment to the UK and alleviate the pressure of firms already keen to invest here.

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And of course, we’re thinking about our net zero journey too.

We need to be laser-focused on the UK’s green economy.

Our new report, together with the Economic & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) and Leeds based, The Data City shows that the UK’s net zero economy grew nine per cent in 2023 – we need to double down on that progress.

The UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) predicts that the UK needs to raise green investment from £10bn per year in 2020 to £50 to 60bn by 2030 – with a big chunk of that money coming from the business community.

Those are some hefty figures.

But firms can see beyond the topline, and know that whilst there will be costs, the journey to green comes with great chances for the UK economy.

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That starts with sending the right signals to investors across the world – providing long-term clarity for business.

So, we’re campaigning for a Net Zero Investment Plan, identifying gaps in investment and policy aimed at crowding in private finance.

Because we may not be able to outspend the likes of the US, the EU and China. But we can outsmart them.

This Spring Budget will set the scene for the election campaigns of the coming months, please get in touch with your feedback on what it means for your business as we will use your insights to make sure we’re elevating the issues that matter most to firms.

To make sure our economy remains a top priority, and to boost the prosperity of UK firms - and their people.

Beckie Hart is CBI regional director for Yorkshire and Humber

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