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Responding to the Chancellor’s budget today, Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said:

“There was much to welcome from today’s budget. Increased investment in infrastructure, sharper incentives for business investment and the chancellor taking measures to mitigate the impact of coronavirus which have a positive effect on business confidence.

“Businesses will be relieved that the Chancellor aims to reform rather than abolish entrepreneur’s relief as those taking genuine risks deserve to realise the benefits of their long-term investment.

“The government is absolutely right in their mantra to ‘unleash the power of businesses’ and commit to tax cuts and targeted spending. We are also delighted to see increases in capital allowances for businesses investing in their premises.

“The interest rate cut together with the government backed credit guarantee scheme should give the banks the confidence to lend. These new flexibilities should help cash flow and help businesses survive the impacts of coronavirus.”

Geoff Mason, Policy Manager at the Northern & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce added “It is understandable that the response to coronavirus took centre stage. Many businesses are concerned about the effects of significant staff absences, supply chain disruption and lower consumer spending. Special measures introduced include expanding business rate relief, support with statutory sick pay and the Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

“However, the situation will need to be monitored closely to see how certain sectors and companies are affected. A flexible approach will be required to ensure companies are protected during this uncertain time.

“The commitment to infrastructure spending is excellent news for businesses across the region. In particular, confirming the northern phases of HS2 and money being made available for local transport, the Chancellor mentioning Preston in his announcement.

“The Chamber has worked with the British Chambers of Commerce to apply pressure on Entrepreneur’s Relief. We are pleased to see that the scheme has been reformed rather than abolished, encouraging long-term investment in growing companies.

“Beyond the temporary business rates relief will be a review of the broken business rates system. This must lead to real action, reducing high upfront costs and abandoning the goal of fiscal neutrality.

“With further incentives for investment and promised reform of the planning system there is much in this budget for businesses to welcome. With continued uncertainty and a changing trading environment at the end of the Brexit transition period, government will need to remain alert to the changing needs of business and provide support in the long-term.”

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