Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his Spring Budget on Wednesday and businesses across the North East are hoping it will bring with it a financial boost.

County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network (CDEMN) is working with employers in the area to support them with their plans for future growth.

And to facilitate these plans, the organisation is hoping Wednesday’s budget will reveal plans to simplify the Research and Development tax-credit process so businesses have a better chance of tapping into the support available.

CDEMN Director of Operations Ben Gilhespy said: “Working with our affiliate partners Tait Walker and Muckle LLP we are highlighting the potential of tax credits, which we hope will be recognised in the budget with a simplification of key eligibility criteria and also a system to better publicise the benefits to businesses.

“We’re also making it a priority to communicate information about the various government schemes available to support SMEs across County Durham. However, a big problem right now is fact these schemes simply aren’t transparent to businesses – those we’re speaking to just don’t know what funds are available to them, or if they do they don’t know where to start.

This same support should also be extended to the implementation of the apprentice levy, to remove the ‘tax’ stigma with which it is associated and to see it as an opportunity to not only bridge the skills gap through apprenticeships but also to upskill an existing workforce.”

CDEMN is also calling on the Government to provide greater clarity to businesses regarding Britain’s exit from the EU, and what impact this may have on County Durham’s engineering and manufacturing firms.

Ben added: “At a recent roundtable with Sir Kier Starmer in which businesses including members of our network were asked what we wanted from government in regards to Brexit, the answer was clear and united. They want clarity.

“Businesses need confidence in an economy to grow and plan for their future and this is something we are currently lacking. There has been no clear vision of how the UK will look moving forward and where a vision has been supplied it is quickly changed or blurred, leaving general confusion and therefore an absolute lack in confidence.

“How this can or will be addressed in the budget is again unclear but there must be some direction provided so businesses can make informed choices as to their own plans, especially where foreign markets are involved.

“Right now, one thing is evident – we need to stop worrying about was has been done and look forward to ways of growing our economy and creating sustainable jobs. Hopefully Wednesday’s budget will provide some kind of platform to enable this to happen.”