Chancellor’s Spending Review: Swindon business reaction

November 26, 2020

Business West, which runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, was disappointed with the lack of capital investment promised by the government for the West of England.

Policy manager Claire Ralph said: “Some minor funding has been allocated to the West of England Combined Authority for local transport improvements through the Transforming Cities Fund.

“Elsewhere it was thin pickings – with our regional leaders having to bid against other English regions for a share of the new £4bn Levelling Up Fund for local infrastructure projects to support our area’s economic recovery. We hope this doesn’t all ‘head North’.”

She also extensions to grant support for businesses whose premises remain closed under high-level tiers was absent despite the end of the national lockdown next week.

“Whilst most public sector workers outside the NHS have their pay frozen, the 2.2% increase to the National Living Wage and similar increases for younger workers and apprentices from April 2021 will further strain business margins in the private sector,” she added.

Business West also said given Brexit was just six weeks away it was surprising the Chancellor made no mention of it – “despite the subdued growth figures assuming an EU trade deal”.

“As we expected, the public finance position for this year and into the future made for stark reading and confirmed the degree of economic shock our region has experienced due to Covid-19,” said Ms Ralph.

“The UK’s economy is only expected to return to pre-pandemic levels two years from now, much slower than we previously hoped.

“The government’s plan for paying for the crisis will emerge in the spring but at the moment the Chancellor is keeping businesses very much in the dark.”

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