Business leaders in Wales lay out priorities ahead of Budget Day
A MAJOR public sector strike, the latest Budget and a health check on the UK labour market will make this Wednesday one of the busiest days in the business calendar.
As Chancellor George Osborne unveils plans for the economy over the next 12 months members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will be striking across the country and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will confirm the number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.
Business leaders in Wales have outlined their priorities to the Chancellor ahead of this year's Budget.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Wales has called on Mr Osborne to put clear plans in place for the Business Bank in order to improve access to finance.
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A spokeswoman for the FSB said: "Not only should he set out the role the new institution will have in getting this finance to small firms, he should also show how the bank would help open up competition in the banking sector and encourage non-bank sources of finance." The FSB would also like to see existing schemes for investment relief pooled together in a simple one-stop-shop so that small firms know where to go for capital to invest in their business.
It is calling on the Chancellor to make the Small Business Rates Relief permanent in England and Wales.
The FSB is also recomm- ending Mr Osborne cancels the 3p fuel duty rise planned for September 2013 and initiate a full review of fuel prices and motoring taxation.
Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Unit Chair, said: "With the economy only growing a fraction in 2012, the Chancellor must deliver a Budget that is unashamedly focussed on boosting small business.
"Our figures show that confidence is rising among small business owners, but there is still caution.
"And, with unemployment still rising in Wales, consumer confidence to spend and boost the economy is far from sufficient,'' she added.
"What we need to hear on March 20 is not more small- scale policies which tinker at the edges but measures that will have a tangible effect both immediately and in the long-term."
Simon Jones, senior partner at KPMG in Cardiff, said businesses want policies that will kick start economic growth.
He said: "Drilling down into the detail, I would hope to see the reintroduction of tax incentives to encourage companies to invest in UK infrastructure.
"This would provide a long term boost to our economy and would be welcomed by those working in Wales's beleaguered construction sector."
Mr Jones said businesses will also be looking to the Chancellor to slash red tape impeding growth and introduce a National Insurance holiday for new employees taken on by businesses to encourage firms to take on more staff.
He said: "A key priority must also be to attract foreign investment to these shores.
"Overseas businesses are amongst the major employers located in Wales and we need to encourage more to set up home here, and retain those already here," added Mr Jones.