Conservative Chancellor Philip Hammond will have his first moment in the spotlight today when he unveils his plan for the British economy.
It is an important Autumn Statement because it is Mr Hammond’s first and is also the first budget announcement since Brexit.
On the wishlist for businesses in North Wales were cuts in fuel tax, infrastructure investment and targeted support for small and medium sized firms.
Rubicon Garden Rooms managing director John Lyon wants the Chancellor to show that he is on the side of small businesses.
When is the Autumn Statement 2016 and what might it mean for YOUR finances
He said: “I’d suggest making business rates relief a permanent fixture for small and micro businesses, including town-centre based retailers, funded by a levy on big supermarkets and out of town shopping parks.
“The Chancellor could also remove the apprenticeship levy on small and micro businesses, which acts to discourage the employment and training of young people.
“He could possibly provide start-up businesses with relief from Corporation Tax, for the first three years of their existence, if turnover is below say, £250k, as this is the time when fledgling businesses are most likely to fail.
“Likewise, reducing employers’ national insurance and the cost of red tape would be of great benefit.
“It would help myself and others involved in the construction trade if VAT on building work was removed – national house builders already enjoy VAT freedom for new builds.
“Also, measures to improve broadband to the fastest possible speeds everywhere, by removing BT Open Reach’s monopoly is key to ensuring flexible home working is achievable for all by removing mobile phone signal not-spots.
“In addition, my team and myself are on the road every day, visiting our clients and it’s obvious that the major road network, here in North Wales and across the border, such as the M56 and M53, need investment for improvements to alleviate the constant jams.”
Tony Parry and Simon Walker, joint managing directors of delivery company Delsol, based in Caernarfon and Deeside, would like to see a cut in fuel duty to reduce the burden on their industry.
Tony said: “Here in the UK we currently have one of the highest rates seen across the EU, making us less competitive in moving imports and exports.
“We would also like to see Westminster invest in road and rail infrastructure to allow our industry to flow and deliver goods in a safe and timely fashion.
“That includes funds to improve road surfaces, repair potholes, reduce road noise and create a safer environment for vulnerable road users – with dedicated cycle lanes where possible.
“As an industry, we have little influence on the road infrastructure, so government should be responsible to ensure better standards are available.
“As part of this, there needs to be improved driver facilities across the road networks.
“Our drivers are required by law to take rest breaks and are yet not adequately catered for, with suitably serviced areas to rest where they can feel secure from truck related crimes.”
They also called on the Chancellor to announce plans to tackle the expected shortfall of HGV drivers, with 60,000 needed across the industry in the coming year. Simon said: “The current cost of getting an HGV licence is prohibitive to young people and many others wanting to enter our industry.
“To encourage more people to begin a career we’d like see the student loans system extended, so people can get the vocational qualifications they need to land a well-paid job, outside the present college system.”
Tony added: “We’d also like to see a further reduction in corporation tax and more effective recovery of tax from those multinational companies that seek to avoid paying their dues in the UK tax system.”
Research from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking found almost half of the region’s SMEs (49%) in Wales put reducing the burden of bureaucracy at the top of their Autumn Statement wish list, with the same number arguing for Corporation Tax cuts.
Allan Griffiths, regional director for Wales at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Despite moves by the Government, red tape is clearly still a burden for SMEs in Wales.
“They are calling on the Government to ease the regulatory pressures that they say are holding them back, as well as slashing Corporation Tax, incentivising foreign investment and tackling fraud.”
Mike Stott, corporate tax specialist and partner at chartered accountants DSG, had these predictions for the Autumn Statement. He said: “This is the Chancellor’s first opportunity to change what he inherited from George Osborne – that said, I think it would be welcomed by business if he used the Autumn statement to set out his road map, rather than taking the opportunity to make changes.
“Retaining economic stability in the UK will be key, given the post-Brexit nervousness. The economy is faring better than everyone expected but the heart monitor is still on. With this in mind, wholesale changes to the tax system would not be welcome.
“I think we might see an increase in the Annual Investment Allowance – essentially the amount a business can spend on an item of equipment and obtain 100% tax relief in the year of expenditure.
“Cars don’t qualify for this relief but I wonder if, once we have ‘Brexited’ and are potentially no longer subject to EU rules, he might allow 100% immediate tax relief for cars manufactured in the UK.
“We might also see an increase in the scope of relief/support offered to businesses in Enterprise Zones to encourage overseas investment. Any changes would have to comply, at least until Brexit, with EU State Aid rules.
“I also anticipate an update on the reduction in benefits available for salary sacrifice, alongside a possible announcement on his roadmap for pensions, and further enhancements to the apprenticeships scheme.”