Giving his initial reaction to the Chancellor’s March Budget, British Chambers’ of Commerce Director General, Dr Adam Marshall, said: “There’s much to welcome in this Budget for business communities across the UK.
“The Chancellor has listened to our calls for support to help firms overcome cash flow challenges posed by Coronavirus. Increases to infrastructure spending and sharper investment incentives will help businesses grow over the longer-term.
“The Budget has addressed the immediate challenges facing the economy, but the Chancellor will have to do more to support businesses as they navigate changes to trading arrangements and the end of the Brexit transition period.”
On the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics, said: “Accessing finance remains crucial to the lifeblood of a business and so we are pleased that the Chancellor has listened our call to maintain the flow of credit. The acid test for the scheme will be whether it is able to get credit flowing to firms who most need it, rather than the usual suspects.”
On the cut to Entrepreneur’s Relief, Suren Thiru, said: “BCC called for the Chancellor to reform rather than abolish Entrepreneur’s Relief and are pleased that he has listened. It is vital to the UK’s economic prosperity that promising young firms and entrepreneurs continue to have access to the sort of long-term investment that may not otherwise happen.”
On the announcement of a review of business rates, he said: “While short-term business rates relief for many thousands of businesses is to be welcomed, larger firms will have to wait until the autumn for a further review of Britain’s broken business rates system. This review must lead to real action to reduce high upfront costs across the board – something we have long campaigned for. Abandoning the goal of fiscal neutrality for the reforms would be an important starting point.”
On incentives for investment, he added: “With business investment persistently anaemic, we are pleased to see the Chancellor deliver sharper incentives for businesses to invest. The increase in the R&D expenditure credit and Structures and Buildings allowance will give companies across the UK a helping hand to push ahead with investments in plant & machinery and property.”
On the reform of the planning system Jane Gratton, Head of Infrastructure Policy, said: “While the government is focused on building new homes, we know that one in five firms struggle to find the land and premises they need to innovate and grow.
“Businesses will be keen to see the details of the reforms to the planning system announced today. The changes must ensure the right balance of land for jobs and homes.”
On infrastructure investment, she said: “BCC has long campaigned to eliminate mobile phone “not spots” and for improvements to the quality and capacity of Britain’s road and rail network. We therefore welcome the significant increase in infrastructure funding that will help boost connectivity and productivity across the country.
“Removing barriers to infrastructure investment across all parts of the UK is vital. A review of the Green Book, which can be a roadblock to important local and regional infrastructure programmes, is welcome. Business engagement in the review is vital.
On measures to meet net-zero targets, Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director, said: “Much of the innovation needed to protect the environment and change the way we live will come from business. This Budget will help them access the investment they need to innovate and rise to the challenge, but the government shouldn’t underestimate the substantial change some businesses will need to make in order to meet the net-zero ambition.
“We look forward to working with government to develop the measures needed to support firms with this transition.”