More stories of UK losing than winning investment says pharmaceutical industry

AstraZeneca - Image Rarrarorro /

The UK´s Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has said that there are more stories of losing investment than there are of being won, the latest a £320m AstraZeneca investment that is destined for Ireland.

AstraZeneca Chief Executive Sir Pascal Soriot was reported by Hunt to have said the decision was due to the UK´s “discouraging” tax rate.

Hunt, who said he agreed with the firm’s “fundamental” argument on taxes, was criticised by the London Economic on Friday, February 10 for simplifying the issue to push his own agenda. They said that Hunt had failed to mention the obvious advantages that an EU hub based in Ireland offered the company.

Speaking at a science facility in central London, Hunt said: “We’re disappointed that we lost out this time and we agree with the fundamental case they’re making which is that we need our business taxation to be more competitive and we want to bring business taxes down.

“But the only tax cuts we won’t consider are ones that are funded by borrowing because they’re not a real tax cut. They’re just passing on the bill to future generations.”

The loss of the investment follows warnings from the group for some time that the UK government need to take its life sciences sector seriously. That view is echoed by Dr Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), who called on the Government to take action in creating a “level playing field”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are more stories about losing investment, like the one we’ve seen with AstraZeneca, than the positive noise stories coming in, and we really have to turn that around.

“I do think there is a basic point that the economy is not growing fast enough at the moment to pay for the public services that we all need, so we’ve got a choice.

“We can either go so far down the route of fiscal conservativism that it would undermine potential growth industries, or we act responsibly but we try to make sure we are competitive with other countries that are going through similar challenges.”

Fundamentally disagreeing with the notion that the corporate tax rate is the reason businesses are investing elsewhere, Torbett said that the NHS levy was killing their businesses.

“The agreement we have with the NHS, has got to the point where companies are now paying more than a quarter of their revenues, not profit but revenues, back to the Government.

“That is vastly in excess of anything the industry pays anywhere else in the world and we have to get to the point where the UK is able to compete for investment on a level playing field, and we are not there yet.”

Many have suspected for some time that the is UK losing more than it is winning in the battle for investment, the latest AstraZeneca who have chosen to invest elsewhere.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at