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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Carlisle MP signs letter urging Chancellor to kick-start economy

Carlisle MP John Stevenson has signed an open letter to Chancellor George Osborne demanding measures to boost UK manufacturing.

John Stevenson photo
Conservative John Stevenson

The letter, from the Associate Parliamentary Manufacturing Group, comes ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement next Wednesday.

Conservative Mr Stevenson is a co-vice chairman of the all-party group.

The MPs say that the Government should:

  • Reintroduce 100 per cent capital allowances for two years to encourage firms to invest;
  • Re-examine the take-up of enterprise finance and loan guarantees;
  • Create a Manufacturing Apprenticeship Fund (MAF) to cuts the costs of higher-level apprenticeships in engineering, ideally by paying the wages of apprentices.

The group says there is “substantial cross-party consensus” for its recommendations, which have been drawn up following “extensive consultation” with associate members.

These include the Engineering Employers’ Federation, Institute for Manufacturing, Institution for Engineering and Technology, and Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Chris White MP, co-chair of the group, said: “Now is not the time for half-measures on manufacturing growth. If we are going to spark a manufacturing-led recovery, then we need urgently to create the system and the conditions the sector needs to thrive.

“This autumn statement provides a gilt-edged opportunity for the Chancellor to demonstrate clearly that this Government is serious about boosting UK manufacturing and driving long-term, sustainable economic growth.”

Meanwhile, west Cumbrian accountant Trevor Morris is calling on the Chancellor to abandon, or at least delay, the planned fuel-duty rise of 3p due in January.

Mr Morris, who runs TaxAssist Accountants in Workington and Whitehaven, argues that this is not the time to hit small businesses with further price rises.

He said: “For trades people and service providers who make home visits, their cars and vans are a vital part of their service – not a luxury – and they can’t absorb the cost of fuel-price increases.

“Trading conditions remain tough for small businesses and the Government needs to do more to help them access vital funding to create growth and jobs.”

Mr Morris also wants the Chancellor to freeze business rates, increase the VAT threshold and widen the employers’ National Insurance contributions holiday for new businesses.

He added: “These simple measures would provide significant savings for many small business owners and would be a welcome early Christmas present from the Chancellor.”

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