By Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire director
Today is Budget Day and business will be waiting with baited breath on the Chancellor’s decisions.
My wish list for business is very simple.
I would like to see a co-ordinated industrial strategy that sets out clearly the government’s support for business-especially those SMEs, the small companies that contribute the lion‘s share to the Gloucestershire economy.
I am not an economist but it is obvious we need to help our companies grow.
But that growth will only come with support whether it is Rolls-Royce or a innovative micro company here in the county that has a potential world-beating product.
I mention Rolls-Royce because I believe government must support the company’s SMR programme-for small modular reactors.
I believe that our former nuclear sites at Berkeley and at Oldbury could well be sites for some of these small nuclear reactors which are each around the size of three football pitches.
If Rolls-Royce do not get that government support for their SMR programme, we may lose a vital source of energy with worldwide companies hovering in the wings.
I might sound like a long playing record on SMRs for Gloucestershire, but I believe that we do have so much to offer in terms of our nuclear heritage and experience.
Nuclear is in our county’s DNA and siting some here would be a big boost for our economy.
Business would, of course, like to see the Chancellor not raise corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent as anticipated.
But I cannot see this happening in the light of inflation and our national debt pile.
However, firms are less likely to invest to grow if they are faced with paying more tax.
That’s why the Budget simply must give companies a chance to grow with some support packages that really give our SMEs the chance of seeing light at what has been a very dark tunnel for many of them.
The Chancellor could start by giving support to reduce childcare costs to allow more women to work.
There are enough jobs around in Gloucestershire—over 20 000 vacancies at the last count.