By Nadeem Badshah
BRITAIN’S leading Asian entrepreneurs have urged chancellor Sajid Javid to axe inheritance tax and lower business rates when he presents his budget in March.
The government’s annual financial plan on March 11 is set to be Britain’s first in more than four decades as a non-European Union member state.
The business leaders have also called on Javid to do more to address the housing crisis and look at the stamp duty rates on properties.
Lord Rami Ranger CBE, founder of the Sun Mark consumer goods brand, said his recommendations include keeping the interest rate and income tax rates low to continue to grow the economy as well as secure funding for the NHS, education and police forces to increase patrols.
He told Eastern Eye: “I would like to see inheritance tax abolished as it is the most unfair tax. Why should people pay tax three times?
“First, when they earn their money. Second, when they buy their properties, and then there shouldn’t be a third levy on their assets upon their death. “At times people have to sell their family business to pay the inheritance tax.”
Javid announced the date of the budget in January at the construction site of a £350 million extension to the Manchester tram network. He suggested that infrastructure spending – mainly in the north of England – would form the backbone of his first tax and spending plan.
The Conservative manifesto included plans to ramp up capital spending by about £20 billion above current levels for infrastructure projects across the country. The government of prime minister Boris Johnson is also pondering going ahead with the first phase of HS2 route between London and Birmingham.
Ramesh Sharma, CEO of Media Ventures International, told Eastern Eye: “The Conservatives have long claimed to the ‘party of British business’.
“I’d like to see the new government back up the rhetoric we heard during the election by putting forward a series of reforms and spending commitments that will actually help businesses.
“From investment in physical and digital infrastructure through to removing Brexit uncertainty and easing the tax burdens on SMEs, the chancellor must show himself to be progressive and ambitious in his support of the private sector.
“He must deliver a speech that will excite and encourage optimism among business leaders.”
In the run-up to the general election in December last year, the prime minister pledged to slash taxes. Changes included raising the threshold for national insurance contributions to £9,500 a year in 2020-2021 as well as reducing the burden of business rates on firms.
Javid will be expected to deliver on Johnson’s pledges, including funding for new hospitals, training thousands of new police officers and funding schools and vocational training.
Ritam Gandhi, director of digital firm Studio Graphene, said 69 per cent of UK tech start-ups fear Brexit will hinder their ability to hire the staff they need to grow, according to recent research that they carried out.
He said: “First, the concerns of a tech skills shortage must be addressed. A clear plan is needed to ensure skilled workers from outside the UK have the ability to join our tech community, in turn meaning that UK tech firms can fulfil their full growth potential. “Additionally, home-grown talent cannot be ignored.
With many tech start-ups eager to avoid a future skills gap, investing in younger generations is needed. Boosting funds for tech education will empower young people with the skills they need to drive innovative change and growth in the UK. Likewise, apprenticeships must be incentivised.
“In the wake of Brexit, we must reassert the UK’s status as a business hub. So, I want to also see greater investment in infrastructure – from improving the efficiency of transport to creating more affordable office spaces, we must make it absolutely clear that we are ‘open for business’”.
Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, said Javid has an opportunity to set the government’s agenda and provide guidance to those who have long felt neglected because of Brexit including consumers, investors and businesses.
“There are reports that the government might abolish stamp duty for homes worth up to £500,000 or make the seller liable for the tax rather than the buyer,” Raja said.
“I am curious to see what changes are made because, ultimately, we must find ways to fuel property transactions.
“The second area is the housing crisis. Instead of just focusing on new-build constructions, the government needs to introduce more creative initiatives. For instance, I, for one, support incentives for renovating or converting derelict, rundown and disused properties.”
He added: “The budget cannot be a wasted opportunity or hollow speech. Urgent reform is needed, guided by a vision that looks beyond Brexit and addresses the domestic challenges the UK faces.”