CAPTAINS of industry across Hampshire are pleading for the Chancellor to announce initiatives that will boost the region’s economy when he reveals his Budget today.

When George Osborne stands up in the House of Commons to deliver his plans for the forthcoming financial year and set out the nation’s economy business leaders hope he will give the region a much-needed lift.

Taxation is one of the key battlegrounds for the political parties and there is already plenty of demand for the 40 per cent tax bracket to be raised.

Norman Armstrong, partner at Grant Thornton chartered accountants, believes firms in the region can benefit from this with a tinkering in National Insurance contributions.

He said: “As the economy starts to motor and the labour market becomes more competitive, finding, retaining and growing talent becomes increasingly important.

“To help businesses with this challenge we recommend the Chancellor provides a National Insurance contribution exemption for employers and employees for the duration of an apprenticeship, to further encourage businesses to invest in equipping people with the right skills for today’s market.”

He went on to say: “Businesses remain overwhelmed by the range and detail of tax legislation today. Forty per cent of mid-sized businesses state that regulatory requirements are more of a challenge now than 12 months ago.

“The customer relationship managers assigned by HMRC to the largest companies have certainly helped to provide greater communication and understanding on these issues.

“There is now real value in replicating this model for medium and smaller sized companies to help them navigate an increasingly complex regulatory environment.”

He added: “The importance of MSBs in driving the UK economic recovery is crystal clear and these measures are an important step to protecting and further enhancing their growth prospects.”

Daily Echo: Cllr Simon Letts

Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts wants investment in the region

Leader of Southampton city council Simon Letts hopes that the Government will “step up to the mark” and provide further investment in the region.

He told the Daily Echo: “We need investment in the road network and support for the area’s economy. Since the loss of Ford and Portsmouth naval dockyards we have seen the loss of high-quality jobs for our region.”