Budget 2023: Investment zones welcomed but still concerns for small West Midlands businesses

Yesterday's Budget was mixed news for manufacturers and SMEs across the region, according to Neil Lloyd, managing director of law firm FBC Manby Bowdler.

Neil Lloyd, managing director, FBC Manby Bowdler
Neil Lloyd, managing director, FBC Manby Bowdler

Neil, who is also the chairman of the Training & Manufacturing Group (TMG), said plans for a new investment zone in the West Midlands Combined Authority area could kickstart a fresh era of investment in innovation and new technology.

But he warned that changes to research and development tax reliefs for SMEs – designed to limit abuse of the system – could cut off a vital lifeline for start-ups and developing firms.

“The creation of an investment zone with tax incentives, relaxed planning rules and links with university clusters, could play a key role in driving growth across the West Midlands and the wider area.

“Our region is the heartland of manufacturing and innovation in the UK and this can help attract still more investment in developing the technologies of the future and consolidate its global reputation.”

Neil said changes to the R&D tax regime and corporation tax had been flagged up in the Chancellor’s autumn statement but would still present challenges to smaller businesses.

“Full capital expensing for the next three years is welcome and will help offset the corporation tax rise for bigger businesses – but it’s not a long term plan and businesses need stability to plan growth.

“We know from talking to manufacturers and businesses across the Midlands just how important the super-deduction R&D relief scheme has been over the last couple of years in keeping investment flowing and what a lifeline it has been to many.

“It will be really important for all SMEs to get some detailed advice on what the new regime means so that they can use it as effectively as possible.”

FBC Manby Bowdler has offices in Wolverhampton, Shropshire and Redditch.

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