Spring Statement 2018: A disconnect between actions and words, says Business West

March 13, 2018

Business West, the region’s largest business organisation, welcomed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s assertion in his Spring Statement that he would continue to “support British businesses” – but it insisted that his actions had to speak louder than words. 

The £80m pledge to help small firms take on apprentices and the opening up of the construction skills fund would help to ease recruitment woes for some firms, said commercial director James Monk. 

However, the £1.7bn city region infrastructure fund only received “a brief public airing” and Mr Monk added: “Here is where the concrete detail ebbs away and the disconnect between actions and words begins to creep in. 

“Unsurprisingly, no more was this rhetoric-reality gap in evidence than on the topic of Brexit. 

“Mr Hammond said that ‘substantial progress’ has been made in the Brexit talks, but we know from working with businesses on the ground that tangible progress hasn’t materialised yet, what with a transition deal still to be secured.”

He said there was potentially more bad news for business in the announcement that the business rates valuation would be brought forward to 2021. 

“There were more losers than winners the last time around and government would be wise not to repeat it. We need to see the appeals process working for the last round before we focus on the next,” he added.

Business West, which runs the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative, had urged the Chancellor to tackle the region’s housing crisis and invest in its infrastructure in the Spring Statement.




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