Help us compete abroad, Chancellor urged

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Lancashire business chiefs have called on the Chancellor to give businesses vital help in the export market.

Speaking ahead of today’s budget, Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Given the unusually small trade deficit in December, it is not entirely surprising to see it widen in January.

“Longer term comparisons, which are less volatile, show that in 2013 as a whole there was a significant fall in the deficit compared with 2012, so progress, albeit gradual, is being made.

“Nevertheless, the pace of the UK’s rebalancing towards net exports is far too slow, and if this continues we risk missing out on the Prime Minister’s target of exports reaching £1tn by 2020. Britain’s global business network must be significantly resourced so that UK companies can compete on a level playing field with their competitors in growing overseas markets, and we look to the Budget for further measures to strengthen trade finance and support.”

Her comments came after a national survey of businesses showed most wanted George Osborne to invest in new employees, plant and machinery.

Looking at tax measures specifically, reducing the National Insurance Contribution rate was the most popular measure that businesses wanted to hear announced this week.

This was followed by an increase in the threshold for the 40 per cent personal tax rate.

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