Chamber Member, BDO, comments on the recent publication of the Levelling Up Whitepaper from Government:
Ed Dwan, partner and Head of BDO in the North West, commented: “Following a disruptive end to 2021 – a year that saw medium-sized businesses rethink operations and quickly adapt to stay afloat – it’s clear just how important levelling up policies are to organisations across the North West.
“Through our Rethinking the Economy survey of 500 mid-sized companies, business leaders have been very clear about their priorities and what true ‘levelling-up’ means to them. The top four priorities for regional businesses include tax cuts and Government subsidies, with a third ranking this as the most important area of focus, investment to develop new infrastructure (27%), the creation of jobs within the North West (23%), together with ensuring the provision of quality housing to rent and buy (23%).
“From our research, only a small percentage of businesses (7%) believe they will benefit from the Government’s pledge to level up the UK but are confident they will be successful regardless of this. In fact, a third of businesses in the region feel that levelling up is critical to the success of their business, with a further 50% believing it will help to some extent by improving the region as a place to live and work.”
Dwan continued: “Regional investment in R&D is a huge positive and Government funding to leverage at least twice as much public sector investment could be the key to stimulating innovation and productivity growth. The North West is well placed to take advantage of this given its entrepreneurial spirit, combined with the sectors and talent in the region, as well as a number of universities and institutions such as The Productivity Institute based here.
“Against a backdrop, in which 93% of North West companies will be impacted by the Government’s announcement to eliminate reliefs for overseas R&D from April 2023, North West business leaders will need to rethink their tax and innovation strategies and consider how they can bring this into the UK.”
Dwan concluded: “Medium-sized businesses are the engine of the economy, accounting for more than £1tn or revenues and their future growth will be crucial to the overall economic recovery of the UK.
“We know there isn’t a one size fits all solution, but the Government’s ambitious levelling up whitepaper should be received positively by business. As companies across the region plan for a brighter year ahead, all eyes will be on the UK Government to listen to what they truly need and deliver against these priorities. The proof will come from whether the necessary funding, focus and implementation follows and brings this whitepaper to life.”