The Budget will be the 'most important in a generation' for Sheffield

The Budget next month is potentially the most important for a generation, a Sheffield business leader has said.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 9:54 am

The new government has a small window to make decisions about projects that should come to a successful conclusion before the next election - especially in the North.

Paul Houghton, managing partner at accountants Grant Thornton in Sheffield, said it was a chance for Sheffield to grab a big slice of funding from a prime minister keen on big ideas he can run with.

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, part of the University of Sheffield, and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, part of Sheffield Hallam University, were prime candidates for a cash injection that would deliver the biggest impact, he added.

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Paul Houghton, managing partner of Grant Thornton in Sheffield, and former LEP board member.

“Boris Johnson likes subjects with a big sweep, such as Brexit or the levelling up agenda for the North. He also sets significant store by major capital projects like the Olympics and Crossrail.

“He has a sizable majority and the opportunity to lay the foundation for what he wants to achieve over the next five years. This is potentially the most important Budget for a generation.”

The challenge for Sheffield City Region was to present idea which the PM could run with, he added.

“He’s a man of positivity, if he gets doom and gloom he won’t engage. For his capital spend he wants significant economic growth and positivity, it goes wider than GDP.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“It feels like there’s a strong case for the AMRC and the AWRC. They offer the biggest potential due to their links between the universities and private sector investment.

“Boris Johson wants to be able to visit the North and say ‘look what we have managed to do in collaboration with local partners’, here in Sheffield and not just in Leeds and Manchester.

“The danger is that party politics gets in the way. If local leaders are doomsters he isn’t going to want to associate and Sheffield could get left behind.”

The Budget is on March 11.

It is expected to bring changes to entrepreneurs’ relief which the Conservatives have said has not fully delivered on its objective. It gives owners selling up a lifetime allowance of £10,000,000 of gain taxed at a reduced rate of 10 per cent.

Meanwhile, the CBI has urged the government to put ‘Yorkshire and The Humber at the heart of the Budget’ with a series of infrastructure demands and action on skills, net zero, innovation and infrastructure.

The bosses’ group sent a letter to the Chancellor asking for a review of business rates, further devolution, HS2 in full, upgrading the East Coast Mainline, high-end research hubs, and funding scale up companies in Sheffield City Region in sectors including aero, auto, and steel to build on the success of the Made Smarter pilot.