Autumn Statement – The business reaction

December 6, 2013

‘After years of deficit, we have a Chancellor who is finally talking about a budget surplus,’ said Graeme Leach, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors (IoD), in response to the 2013 Autumn Statement. His was one of many optimistic voices to speak out today about the proposed changes.

Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), John Cridland, observed that ‘the 2% cap on business rates and discount for very small businesses are positive. Abolishing a jobs tax on employing young people under 21 will make a real difference and help tackle the scourge of youth unemployment’.

John Allan, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), agreed, saying ‘Action on business rates was the top priority for our members, and the Chancellor has addressed some of their concerns. Capping business rates is a welcome measure’.

He did add, however, ‘what remains outstanding is a fundamental reform of business rates, which we will continue to press for’. Concluding on the matter of apprenticeships, Allan said, ‘the commitment to expand these will help more and more young people think about this as a route into a career’.

Responding to the Chancellor’s comments on energy, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Director General John Longworth was positive. ‘Energy security remains a huge priority for British businesses,’ he said. ‘We welcome new tax allowances that will help kick-start the exploration of onshore oil and gas, including shale gas’.

Cautious about promises made, Longworth continued, ‘the Government’s commitment to improving the UK’s outdated infrastructure can only be properly judged when projects are being built, rather than by the number of aspirational strategies produced’.

The Autumn Statement has clearly touched upon issues that business groups have been concerned about for a long time. From their perspective, at least, this is a period of careful hope and thoughts of the future.

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