In the aftermath of the Autumn Budget, Top 30 advisory firm Bishop Fleming is calling on the government to give more attention to the South West in its infrastructure investment and tax incentive programmes.
The firm, which delivers accounting, tax, corporate restructuring and advisory services to businesses and private wealth advice to individuals, states that whilst new money and general measures announced in the Budget are welcome and will have some positive impacts on the region, more could have been done specifically for the South West in the pronouncements.
The Autumn Budget included investment in new housing and technology, cuts in stamp duty for first time buyers, upgrades to rail infrastructure between Bristol and London, and a new £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund.
Bishop Fleming's Managing Partner, Matthew Lee, said: “Improved rail links between Bristol and London and an as yet unclear amount from the Transforming Cities Fund will help the region, but more specific support for the South West to further boost skills, innovation and productivity is needed.”
Mr Lee added: “No further initiatives were announced for roads and rail in the South West, apart from a vague promise to reconsider opening the Oakhampton to Exeter rail link, following a consultation.”
The Budget also announced there would be over £500m made available for a range of technology projects alongside a further £2.3bn for large company R&D tax credits, but the Bishop Fleming Partner voiced concern that on past performance, the South West would see a disproportionately smaller share of this than the rest of the country.
Mr Lee remarked: “The South West punches above its weight in terms of its economic contribution to the UK, despite often being overlooked for infrastructure spending. Future growth in the region will depend on transport and infrastructure investment that helps to alleviate slow digital connectivity, congested roads and crowded trains.”
He added: “Whilst larger companies will benefit from a more generous R&D tax credit, small and medium-sized companies, which make up the backbone of the South West economy, were not offered any additional R&D help. The region should not be losing out on any new tax measures that could make it even more competitive.”