Business

'Help us to invest', say businesses

welding Image copyright PA
Image caption The BCC says the move would help to tackle "unacceptable business investment uncertainty".

The amount firms can invest in plants and machinery from pre-tax profits should be frozen at its current limit, a major business group has said.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has urged the chancellor to make the current £500,000 annual investment allowance (AIA) for firms permanent.

The allowance is due to fall to £25,000 at the end of December.

The body argues the move would help to tackle "unacceptable business investment uncertainty".

"This would help to achieve better balanced growth and to tackle the unacceptable uncertainty created by the constant chopping and changing of UK tax structures and incentives", the BCC said.

The BCC, which represents businesses that employ more than 5 million people, has also urged the chancellor to widen the allowance so that it includes improvements to business premises.

'Warning sign'

Business investment fell 1.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, a decline that the BCC says it expects to continue.

The body has already more than halved its 2015 forecast for business investment from 7.5% to 3.5%, which it says would mark the slowest rate of growth for six years.

BCC director general John Longworth said its lowered forecast was "a warning sign that more needs to be done".

"A long-term investment allowance would give businesses of all sizes much-needed certainty," he added.

The threshold has been changed frequently since it was first introduced in April 2008 at £50,000. Two years later, it was doubled to £100,000 for two years before being reduced to £25,000 and then temporarily increased to £250,000.

In last year's Budget, chancellor George Osborne said the limit would temporarily be increased from £250,000 to £500,000 from 1 April this year until 31 December.

The BCC's move follows similar requests from a host of other business groups.

The manufacturers' association, the EEF, wants the current £500,000 allowance to be maintained, while the Institute of Directors has said it should be increased to £1m, and the CBI has said it should be made permanent at £250,000 from the start of next year.

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