TheCityUK has sent the following recommendations to the Chancellor as part of its Budget representation.
1. Policy should support growth by supporting individual savers
TheCityUK recommends the examination of more detailed proposals to facilitate the market for older people to pass acquired wealth to younger generations via tax-advantaged vehicles. This would address intergenerational fairness issues and help younger people finance investments such as education.
TheCityUK recommends the establishment of an independent body after the upcoming General Election to examine long-term savings policy. This would build on the achievements of the Pensions Commission by considering potential policy solutions that can command cross-party and stakeholder support for further reforms that would create a long-term plan for savings policy in the UK. Such a plan would provide people with the stability and confidence they need to set money aside for their futures. The key issues that such a body should address include:
• Increasing contributions beyond 8% through additional 'nudges'
• Ensuring there are appropriate incentives in place to encourage pensions saving
• Improving engagement with saving by simplifying disclosure rules
• Identifying targets that help people understand what they need to save at different stages
2. Policy should support growth by enabling greater investment in infrastructure
• Government should offer support to the private sector in the selection of viable, investor-friendly infrastructure projects. By removing the political risk that dominates infrastructure projects, the public sector can help to transform marginal projects into investible projects.
• Government should collect the details of current and forthcoming infrastructure projects to make investment opportunities more visible. Working in collaboration with local and regional authorities, the Government could introduce a national infrastructure database (linked with the database set up as part of the European Fund for Strategic Investments), thereby improving the ability of investors to assess and commit to infrastructure projects.
3. Policy should support growth by promoting small and medium-sized enterprises
TheCityUK recommends that the Bank of England be encouraged to set up a web-enabled, easily searchable, highly promoted central credit register.
This initiative would build on the Government's promise in 2013 to "investigate options for improving access to SME credit data to make it easier for newer lenders to assess loans to smaller businesses", the discussion triggered by the Bank's May 2014 examination of this subject and HM Treasury's own consultation on this subject.
Improving small business' access to debt financing goes beyond merely increasing the range of potential bank and alternative lenders. Capital markets are an important source of funding for larger UK businesses, but in general UK firms—and especially small businesses—have yet to take advantage of the full potential of capital-markets financing. Since dynamic and innovative capital markets can provide greater access to capital at lower costs, we welcome the European Commission's prioritisation of a single market for capital in the EU and urge the Government to signal the UK's support for Capital Markets Union as a means to boost corporate investment and economic growth by lowering the cost of capital.
In summary, TheCityUK urges the Government to support individual savers, small and medium-sized enterprises, and infrastructure investors, all of whom will make a positive contribution to economic growth given the right policy environment.