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Herald hosts reader breakfast briefing on the UK economy

THE Herald and Sunday Herald are organising a free breakfast briefing for readers to discuss the implications for the UK economy the morning after the Chancellor presents his Budget.

A group of expert panellists, chaired by political commentator Iain Macwhirter, will provide a summary of the main issues raised by George Osborne's latest plan. Already confirmed to join the panel are professor David Bell of Stirling University, Fraser Campbell, partner at accountancy firm Campbell Dallas, and Robin Shannan, executive chairman at law firm McClure Naismith.

The panel is also likely to provide views on areas such as personal and corporate tax, VAT, and tax planning.

Mr Campbell said: "Tax is one of the few costs that a business has no control over. It is also a major cost once the burden of corporate tax and payroll taxes are taken fully into account. Tax is also a significant factor in business investment decisions which are critical to continue the recovery starting to take hold.

"I have no major pre-conceived views on the specifics of the direction of the budget other than to expect further tightening of anti-avoidance provisions, some of which may have unintended consequences for the majority of businesses that try and keep to the spirit of the tax legislation.

"I expect overall tinkering (ie ups and downs) with the main taxes will hopefully leave us in a broadly neutral position overall."

Mr Shannan said: "The UK economy is growing. But the recovery is not yet secure. The economy needs to be rebalanced. The UK needs to manufacture more and export more. It can't rely on consumer spending and the City. Who says so? The Chancellor, George Osborne. I agree.

"The recovery so far has left the economy well behind its 2007 levels and is the slowest recovery from recession since the 19th century (at least). The Chancellor has made clear his determination to keep to his planned cuts in government spending and eliminate the deficit by 2020.

"I will be looking at the budget in that context to see what measures there are to increase UK manufacturing investment, encourage exports and rebalance the economy to secure the recovery. Not to mention any independence politics."

The event is supported by Campbell Dallas, McClure Naismith and Skypark. It starts at 8am on Thursday, March 20 at Skypark in Glasgow. For further details go to www.herald-events.com/budget/ or contact Lyndsay Wilson on 0141 302 7407 or by mail on Lyndsay.wilson@heraldandtimes.co.uk.

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