Business needs incentives to invest

Industrialist Sir James Dyson is something of a Marmite character but you certainly cannot fault him for saying it as it is on the economy.

Having listened to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s major speech on the economy at the end of last week, I can’t help thinking that the government needs to take heed of Sir James’s wise words.

In essence, Sir James, who of course lives in Gloucestershire, has labelled the government’s economic approach as “short sighted” and “stupid”.

Strong words, but to me there is a ring of truth about them.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Sir James said:

“I believe it is not too late for Britain to shake off its Covid inertia, and its dependence on politicians for all the answers.

“There are sensible policies such as research and development tax credits that encourage investment in the UK and the creation of high value jobs and careers.

“But the government seems intent on moving in the opposite direction with the introduction of increasingly suffocating regulation, greater interference with business, and thinking it can impose tax upon tax on companies in the belief that penalising the private sector is a free win at the ballot box.

“This is short-sighted as it is stupid”.

What I do welcome from the Chancellor’s statement last week is that business should benefit first from any planned tax cuts.

But how long will business have to wait for some of these benefits?

It is unusual for a Chancellor to make a keynote speech like this just six weeks before his March budget.

Why did he do it? My guess it was to lower expectations about possible tax cuts.

The Chancellor said his budget would be about the “plumbing” of the economy designed to boost growth over the long term by attracting the industries of the future.

To me, that seems to be an unattractive recipe to serve up to business which needs to see incentives to invest for growth far more quickly.