Northern Ireland business groups announce Budget proposals

Greater opportunities for economic growth, investment, job creation and business confidence are amongst the proposals being put forward by Northern Ireland business groups ahead of the Chancellor's Budget later this month.

Northern Ireland's Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for a Budget for small firms with particular incentives to take on new staff.

The NI's Chamber of Commerce (NICC) is also calling for a 'braver' and 'more radical' approach to economic growth by stimulating exports and improving the country's infrastructure.

Both the FSB and NICC highlighted the need for improved access to finance for firms and a review of how enterprise support is delivered through central and local government.

Commenting after Moody's downgraded the UK's AAA credit rating last month, Mark Nodder, president of the NICC said: "There are hundreds of hard-working companies across the country, who are determined to play their part in exporting and creating local jobs and growth. But with the right support from government to create an environment of enterprise, they can go even further to driving a lasting economic recovery."

Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the Budget on the 20 March against a sluggish economic backdrop, with the Office for National Statistics estimating the UK economy to have shrunk by 0.3 per cent in the last three months of 2012.

Key proposals from the NI FSB also include:

  • Improved access to finance through the Business Bank 
  • That the newly formed Financial Conduct Authority (replacing the Financial Services Authority) will focus on encouraging new finance options into the market
  • Simplification of the tax system to allow small firms with a turnover of less than £77,000 to provide cash-based accounts
  • Confirmation of a permanent small business rates relief.

We'll be reporting live on the 20 March Budget throughout the day.