Hammond urged to announce £18.6bn stimulus in Autumn Statement

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been urged to adopt an £18.6bn package of measures to support business in the wake of the Brexit vote when he delivers his Autumn Statement next month.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) wants Mr Hammond’s first major fiscal announcement to boost investment and infrastructure, and demonstrate continued support for firms.

It wants a promise from the Government to introduce no new taxes on firms before 2020, as well as further reform of business rates.

The BCC is also calling for measures to widen tax breaks for investment and improvements in its apprenticeship levy scheme.

Its proposals to boost growth and productivity would cost an average of £4.6bn a year over the next four years, or 0.6% of total Government spending, totalling £18.6bn, the BCC said.

They come after Mr Hammond said a shift in economic policy was needed to see the UK “through a period of turbulence and uncertainty”.

BCC director-general Adam Marshall said: “The Autumn Statement gives the government a great chance to set the tone for its relationship with British business, by pulling out all the stops to support investment, infrastructure improvements, and business confidence.”

He said the Chancellor had a “golden opportunity” to use historically low interest rates to support business investment.

Mr Marshall added: “Plans to lower business costs and support investment would help firms take risks and seize opportunities in spite of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process.

“Westminster must do everything in its gift to improve the business environment – and firms will repay that backing with investment, hiring, training and export growth.”

The BCC said existing concerns about a slowdown in the economy have been intensified by the uncertainties on the wake of June’s EU referendum.

A recent survey by the group showed businesses had lowered expectations for hiring, turnover and investment in plant, machinery and training in the coming year.

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