I’m under no illusions as to whether George Osborne will be in a position to deliver any early Christmas presents for UK enterprise in his autumn statement tomorrow. Austerity is likely to remain the word of the day for some time to come. But I, like many other UK manufacturers, am keenly awaiting an update on his plans for growth.
For manufacturers, a key focus in 2013 has to be on breaking into growing export markets and to encourage this we need financial incentives.
British exporters would be advised to seek markets that are very buoyant outside of the European zone, where there are still severe economic challenges. For example my business, Oliver Valves, is extremely busy in North America, Brazil, Middle East and the Far East – markets where British quality and efficiencies, such as on-time deliveries, are very much appreciated. The weak pound is helpful, as are the various Government bodies, such as UKTI, which help exporters to forge links with distributors and customers.
I want to see the Chancellor recognise this opportunity for boosting exports. Easy access to finance and economic incentives are critical if businesses are going to be encouraged to invest in their overseas sales networks. There has been talk of doubling capital investment reliefs to £50,000 to encourage small businesses to bring investment plans forward which would be welcome news, but I want to see something bolder.
The Government seems to be taking my own campaign for a tax relief for exporters seriously. Indeed, the House of Lords Select Committee visited me in October to hear more about what I have proposed and have assured me they are considering it. This would be a more effective method of driving overseas sales that the mooted proposals to provide £1bn and £5bn of export loan guarantees – which I believe have the potential to become too cumbersome.
I hope this willingness to listen and engage which I have experienced from the Government is a good sign for 2013.
We are saddled with significant debt due to the Labour Government’s bad management, the home economy in Britain is struggling and the only way we are going to repay our huge - trillion pound and growing - debt is to support and incentivise those businesses with the potential to drive an export-led recovery. Ultimately, this would create jobs and pay down our massive debt overhead.