Budget offers some help on jobs front but does not fully rise to economic challenge

A clear jar full and surrounded by coper pennies sits on a dark wood table. The background is dark and out of focus.

Reacting to the Chancellor’s Budget, Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said:  

“Following the Autumn Statement this Budget was always set to deliver less for business although changes to National Insurance will provide some momentum.

“However, beyond this there were no major announcements to help shift the dial on conditions for business.

“The clock is now ticking to the General Election – and this Budget could be the last fiscal event before voters go to the polls.

“Business confidence is improving but the coming months will remain challenging for many companies. It is vital that the economy remains front and centre of the campaign to come.”

On jobs, Shevaun said:

“The prospect of an additional 200,000 entering into the workforce, due to cuts in National Insurance would make a significant dent in the job vacancies holding back our economy. It will also provide a welcome boost to economic growth.

“Combined with the increased child benefit threshold, this should help business find the staff they so desperately need.”

On the VAT threshold change, she added:

“Increasing the VAT threshold to £90,000 from April will help SMEs in our Chamber network to grow and invest but a more fundamental review is required. We will continue to engage with Government to push for this.”

Responding to news of new funding to train planners, Shevaun, said:

“We are pleased the Chancellor has joined forces with the BCC and our founding partner Aviva, by committing £3m of matched funding to our business-led programme to unlock the planning system. This is a clear signal from Government about working in partnership with business to solve problems. We now have a real opportunity to make the system quicker and more efficient for everyone. It is all about investing in talent and building communities.”

On the new Growth Guarantee Scheme she said:

“It’s also good news that the Chancellor has listened to our calls for the Recovery Loan Scheme to be extended. Under its new name, the Growth Guarantee Scheme will continue to be a financial lifeline for thousands of businesses to get back on track after recent economic shocks and plan for future growth.”

On tax free shopping she added:

“There will be huge disappointment that a new internationally competitive tax-free shopping scheme was not mentioned by the Chancellor. We will review the OBR’s evidence and continue to make the case for this.”

Essex Chambers of Commerce broadly agrees with this analysis. Head of Policy Iain McNab said:

“Business would give a cautious welcome to these Budget measures. The cut to National Insurance will put some more money into people’s pockets but may not be enough, combined with the freezing of income tax thresholds, to give a major boost to spending power.

“As we approach the spring and summer months on which so many tourism and hospitality businesses depend, there are grounds for some optimism on growth. But equally the rise in the VAT threshold does not go far enough, there was no commitment to review business rates, and the country remains without a clear economic plan.”

Image By rorozoa

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