Budget 2017: National business reaction. Some help in challenging times

November 22, 2017

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn described it as a Budget that balanced support for people on squeezed incomes with vital action to help grow the UK out of austerity. But delivery will be everything.

“Against a sombre economic backdrop, the Chancellor gripped the steering wheel on the UK economy. Action on business rates, R&D tax credits, Brexit planning and an extension and increase of the National Productivity Investment Fund will help firms to invest and grow against an uncertain backdrop. 

“It was good to see focused investment in the long-term drivers of growth that underpin sustainable prosperity.

“Building a skills system that supports the fourth industrial revolution is the right ambition, but the approach needs to be joined-up with the National Retraining Partnership and coupled with apprenticeship levy flexibility.

“Additional investment in infrastructure will help tackle regional inequalities. The support for housing supply is critical for people and firms. Metro mayors will also welcome greater options for transport funding, but regions without devolution deals must not be left behind.

“And by making the most of tomorrow’s technologies, including increasing investment in R&D and fuelling innovation the Government will help create a virtuous circle by drawing in private sector funding.

“The challenge now is to turn words into action. For government and business, this starts next week with the Industrial Strategy.”

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry welcomed the Budget as “business-friendly in challenging times”.

“The Chancellor’s vision for an inclusive economy includes a set of measures that will boost confidence across the small business community as they face extremely challenging trading conditions,” he said.

“1.5m modest-earning small firms and the self-employed will be relieved that we have seen off a VAT tax grab that would have caused huge economic damage. Instead, FSB is ready to work with the Treasury to simplify an over-complicated tax that on average takes a business a whole week to administer every year.”

He also welcomed what he called a “careful approach” to protect diesel van drivers while at the same time addressing air quality.

“We also welcome the fuel duty freeze, which is vital to so many local businesses for customers, suppliers and staff,” he said.

“FSB presented a series of reforms to the Chancellor to make the business rates system fit for the future, and we are delighted to see many taken on board to improve a tax that so badly undermines economic growth. We are particularly proud to see the elimination of the staircase tax, a victory that FSB has campaigned hard to secure over the last few months.

“The economic outlook remains extremely troubled, with high costs of doing business and inflationary pressures hitting confidence and deteriorating productivity and growth. New public sector headline investment will help, to scale-up the British Business Bank by two thirds as well as in research and development, local infrastructure, SME housebuilding, broadband and training. This must now be followed by practical detail in an ambitious Industrial Strategy next week.”


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