Industry calls for more support from chancellor Alistair Darling

The horticulture industry is calling for more support from the Government ahead of the chancellor's budget next week.

The HTA's director of commercial services Andrew Maxted said Alistair Darling could assist the sector by reducing the overdue business rates to help small businesses spread their rate payments and steer the Low Pay Commission on the national minimum wage.

"The chancellor could very usefully include a review of the Sunday Trading Act," said Maxted.

He added that he hoped the chancellor would take notice of retailers' concerns about reinstating a higher level of VAT in the post-Christmas sales period.

Horticultural consultant Geoff Dixon said: "I'd like to see some money in terms of horticultural research and development. We have already seen the closure of Kirton and there are dark mutterings about others."

Horticulture business adviser Leslie Kossoff added: "The Government is failing to put money into R&D. It should also be investing in creating consortia because then you are talking export."

- See leader, p16.

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