Chancellor’s summer economic statement: Regional business reaction

July 8, 2020

Measures to address the huge economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic announced this afternoon by Chancellor Rishi Sunak have been welcomed by Business West, the region’s largest business group.

Matt Griffith, director of policy at Business West – which runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative – described them as impressive but also added that the contents of the summer economic statement were a “gamble” in such unprecedented times. 

“For someone who has only been Chancellor for five months, Rishi Sunak is proving a remarkable calm and capable operator. This is lucky, because never have these qualities been more important,” Mr Griffith, pictured, said.

“This is a critical moment. The withdrawal of furlough payments, amidst deep economic uncertainty and the continuation of social distancing, is a major risk. The UK could see an unprecedented collapse in employment that would do long-lasting damage to our economy.”

For this reason, he said, Rishi Sunak’s overwhelming focus was on jobs – on their protection and creation.

“And it was an impressive array of measures, from a jobs retention bonus to a £2bn kickstart fund for new jobs for young people, to a wider economic stimulus via stamp duty cuts and a 5% VAT rate for leisure and hospitality businesses,” he added.

“He also pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a voucher to get people back eating at restaurants.

“This economic statement, however, remains a gamble. Are firms confident enough to retain and create enough jobs in the face of such uncertainty? Will the measures be enough to counterbalance the hit to income and capacity that social distancing has given to our hospitality and food & drink industries? Will we see a second spike and local lockdowns to blow events off course?”

The Chancellor had an Autumn budget as fall-back in case this statement wasn’t enough, said Mr Griffith.

“But in the meantime, let’s take up his generous offer to help our economy recover – if the Chancellor is buying, it is up to us to help support getting our local economy back on track.” 

More reaction will follow later . . 

Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Swindon & Wiltshire for just £70 a month. Email for more information.