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Business groups give Chancellor Budget wish list

Simon Quicke

The budget might still be a month away but the wish list is already being put together as different sectors of the economy voice their concerns that the fragile recovery requires more government support.

The Chancellor George Osborne is due to deliver his second budget next month on 23 March, but with the private sector expected to lead the recovery charge those business groups representing different sectors have started to voice their fears that unless more help comes the rest of this year could be a tough ride.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the manufacturing organisation the EEF have both come out calling for government support and a clear idea from Osborne over economic strategy.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive at EEF, said that the government had been very clear on what it was doing to reduce the deficit but now needed to offer some clarity around its plans for growth.

"The fiscal mandate has reassured business about the stability of the public finances. Government must now send the same signal that it is serious about enhancing the competitiveness of our business environment by matching this with a robust Growth Mandate," he said.

As part of that growth mandate the EEF wants each budget to include details of the changes in total tax costs faced by businesses and the changes in bank and non-bank external finance to firms.

The state of the retail sector continues to be a fragile one with the impact of last month's VAT rise along with a general decline in spending, underlined by a warning of reduced high street activity from bargain shop Primark today, leading the BRC director general Stephen Robertson to call for more government support.

"While it may be true that 'the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden', the retail sector, which operates on slim margins, is already seeing its load increase sharply. New impositions can only hinder retail's ability to invest," he said.

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