South & Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce, along with the British Chambers of Commerce, give full reaction to Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

 

Giving his full reaction to the Autumn Statement, Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said:

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“Philip Hammond has delivered a responsible, solid and focused package that will reassure both business and markets.

“Increased resources for infrastructure, broadband and innovation will boost business confidence at a critical moment. The Chancellor’s strong focus on the growth requirements of our cities, regions and nations will not go unnoticed in business communities across the UK.

“While business communities would have liked Philip Hammond to go even further to support growth, they will recognise that his hands are somewhat tied by lower tax receipts and sharply higher borrowing forecasts. The fact that he chose to commit significant new resources to support growth and productivity demonstrates welcome flexibility during a period of uncertainty and change.

“There was very little support in our business communities for further cuts to Corporation Tax, so Philip Hammond was right to stick with existing plans. However, we would have liked to see more action on the high up-front taxes and costs of doing business in the UK.

“The government’s decision to move to a single annual set of tax and spending commitments will be welcomed by businesses weary of frequent and sometimes unclear changes of direction.”

 

Liz Maher, President of the South & Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce added:

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“The Chancellor’s announcements has given the Welsh Government an additional £400million to spend between now and 2020-21. This and the recommitment to the Swansea City Deal are particularly important for Welsh businesses. The Swansea and Cardiff city deals have the potential to transform the economy of South Wales but it is very important that the business community now sees real action and, importantly, real engagement of business in moving these initiatives forward.

“It is now over to the Welsh Government and local authorities in Wales to use that money to support businesses here. We need to see improved transport links in to West Wales, investment in developing workforce skills and increased support for businesses looking to grow.”

 

Tax Measures

 

On fuel duty

 

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Suren Thiru, Head of Economics and Business Finance at BCC, said:

“The continued freeze is positive news for businesses, particularly amongst smaller firms and the self-employed, for whom transport and distribution costs account for a significant proportion of their cost base.”

 

On Insurance Premium Tax

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics and Business Finance at BCC, said:

“Businesses across the UK will be disappointed by a further rise in the Insurance Premium Tax. This is yet another stealth tax on businesses, and increases the upfront cost of a critical safety net for firms.”

 

Spending Commitments

 

On road and rail infrastructure investment in England,

Heather Myers, Director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said:

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“With many of our members operating across the UK this announcement will have a knock-on effect on Welsh businesses as transport improvements open up supply chains as well as enhance access to labour and new markets.

“There will also be significant opportunities for Welsh businesses to win new contracts to supply these major projects.

“This extra investment in England does mean an extra £400 million in to the Welsh Government’s budget. We are now looking to them to give the green light to much needed infrastructure projects here in Wales such as improved links in to West Wales and confirmation that the M4 Relief Road will be built.”

 

On export support,

David Riches, Executive Director said:

We welcome the announcement of additional finance and insurance support by UK Export Finance, which should provide valuable help to UK exporters.

Elgan Morgan, Policy & Public Affairs Manager at the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, added:

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“However, the support through UK Export Finance is not sufficient to improve our ambition to get more businesses to export. The Welsh Government now needs to increase direct support  to exporters such as enabling businesses to attend trade missions, trade fairs, commission market research or make themselves export ready.”

 

On broadband digital infrastructure and 5G,

Heather Myers, Director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said:

“We’ve been calling for years for the necessary funding to improve business broadband connections and develop 5G, so these announcements are a big step in the right direction.

“While the implementation of Superfast Broadband is progressing well in Wales more can be done to ensure that every business has access to a world class digital infrastructure. The government’s focus must now be on addressing the lack of superfast broadband to new and existing business parks. Rectifying this would go some way to boosting business confidence.”

 

On research and development,

Mike Spicer, Director of Research and Economics at BCC, said:

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“Increasing investment in research and development will provide a boost to the UK economy at a time when productivity growth remains weak. However, to ensure that UK firms remain competitive on the global stage it is vital that greater investment in research and development is supported by retention of our intellectual property.”

 

Policy Announcements

 

On the National Living Wage,

Marcus Mason, Head of Business, Employment and Skills at BCC, said:

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“Most businesses already pay above the National Living Wage but for the others the latest increase comes at a time when businesses are already facing a myriad of other upfront costs and uncertainty about investment and recruitment. It’s therefore right that the government has re-adjusted the trajectory of the planned National Living Wage increase in line with changes in economic circumstances.

“Our research shows that sharp increases in the National Living Wage will cause many firms to implement cost reduction measures, such as reducing recruitment and staff hours or increasing prices. It’s important the government retains a similarly flexible approach going forward which will protect businesses and jobs.”

 

On productivity and the Charlie Mayfield Review,

Adam Marshall, BCC Director General, said:

“It’s no secret that many UK businesses are not as productive or effective as they could be, and need to do better. Chambers across the UK look forward to working with Charlie Mayfield and others on initiatives to boost productivity, investment and growth within firms.”

Here is the podcast from the BCC regarding the Autumn statement https://www.buzzsprout.com/admin/episodes/446055-bcc-talks-autumn-statement

24 November 2016

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