Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to announce his Spring Budget next month. GILES BROWN asked people what they would like to see included.

Colin Johnson, Partner at MHA Moore and Smalley, says: "I’d like to see the Chancellor do something to ease the administrative burden on EU exports given the number of clients, especially those operating in the food and drink sector, who tell me they’ve effectively stopped them due to red tape. Easing the barriers to trading with our nearest export partner would give a boost to the economy and reopen some supply lines that have closed since Brexit.

I’d also wish to see clarity around enhanced capital allowances which lower the tax burden for businesses investing in new equipment. In the 2021 budget we had the super-deduction offering 130 per cent first-year relief on qualifying plant and machinery investments, but this ends on

March 31 2023, together with the enhanced £1m Annual Investment Allowance. Extending these reliefs will encourage the region’s businesses to continue investing for growth.

Elsewhere, I’d like to see support for our hospitality sector through reduced VAT rates and some initiatives to boost the overseas visitors to the regions, which have not returned to the levels seen prior to the pandemic."

Jennifer Cormack, sales and marketing director, Windermere Lake Cruises, says: "

I hope the Chancellor takes action to tackle the double threat facing tourism businesses in Cumbria – rising costs (in all areas) and labour shortages. Recruitment of staff remains a major issue for many tourism businesses. We need action to tackle the lack of affordable housing and the cost of travelling to work which also deters people from applying for jobs. Recruitment is further hampered by issues affecting public transport. Action to make public transport more affordable and attractive to potential employees would be a great help.

Windermere Lake Cruises isn’t alone in experiencing increased fuel and energy costs, research by Cumbria Tourism shows rising energy prices are a standout concern for 95 per cent of tourism businesses. Increased fuel costs are a standout concern for 72 per cent. We need the Government to ease these pressures, a reduction in taxation on fuel costs for businesses would be welcome along with some relief on energy costs for heating premises."

Phil Redfern, of React Engineering, says: " The last few years have seen unprecedented levels of economic uncertainty. I think businesses of all shapes and sizes are craving some level of stability from the Government, a difficult ask for the Chancellor in the current climate.

One of the positive things to come out of the pandemic has been the shift towards buying local from smaller businesses. Cumbria is home to some fantastic, innovative small businesses working across a range of industries.

It would be great to see a package of measures from the Chancellor aimed at supporting the growth of small and medium sized enterprises looking to scale-up.

A shortage of skilled resources is driving up costs across many sectors. It

would also be good to see something from the Chancellor to further

incentivise companies to invest in creating opportunities, training and

developing the next generation of young people and creating a sustainable

base of skills for the future."

Keith McMean, group managing director, The Entrepreneurs Group, says: " The chancellor should introduce more help for startups and early stage businesses. We have the help already in place from the Government, but we need more.

Confidence is rock bottom at the moment for people thinking about starting a business, or growing an existing business, plus retail is dying in our cities and towns, we need something drastic to help reverse this trend.

Rents and rates are too high and we have firsthand experience that they put people off trying, especially in retail. The cost of running premises is at an all time high so it’s time we started to think differently about lots of sectors, not just retail. I would love to see a ‘Cumbrian think tank’ made up of industry leaders who come together to solve some of our biggest business problems. Now there's a thought…"

Liz Eastburn, Head of Direct Distribution for The Cumberland, says: " I’d like to see clear support focussed on helping first-time buyers saving for a house deposit and getting onto the property ladder. It’s not as easy as telling people to cut back to save more. We need to see help that’s going to make a difference and take away that feeling that buying your first home is something that’s impossible or unachievable.

We know bills are going to keep going up, so I’d like to see a continued focus on reducing energy costs with support offered to those who need it most – not forgetting business owners.

From a savings perspective, increasing annual ISA allowances and lifetime pensions allowances would be welcomed.

Overall, moving into 2023 we need the chancellor to provide a clear plan of action that will provide economic stability and better opportunities for prosperity."