The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has welcomed the Autumn Statement and Spending Review issued earlier today by the Chancellor, George Osborne.
Attention elsewhere might have been centred on Mr Osborne’s decisions regarding tax credit cuts and police funding but there were plenty of stories to keep the business community occupied.
Among those are: the extension of small business rate relief for another year; the scrapping of uniform business rates by the end of Parliament; the creation of 26 new enterprise zones.
There will also be a 50 per cent increase in transport capital spending to £61 billion, as well as the setting of an apprenticeship levy at 0.5 per cent of an employer’s wage bill.
As a result, Mr Osborne is targeting a total of three million apprenticeships by the year 2020.
“Once again the ‘builder’ Chancellor has used the tools at his disposal to create a Statement that the majority of businesses will applaud,” said BCC Director General, John Longworth.
“The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) forecasts gave the Chancellor more room to move than was predicted, so this wasn’t the doom and gloom Spending Review that most people anticipated.
“We are delighted that the Chancellor has used this opportunity to listen to business on infrastructure, particularly on repairing our broken road network. This will help move people and goods more efficiently across the country, which will help businesses to grow.
“Increasing investment in science and technology is a boon to our dynamic businesses, especially in our thriving tech sector, so that they have room to grow.
“However it is important that the move to replace grants with loans from Innovate UK does not reduce our dynamism in the global economy. Businesses must continue to feel empowered to evolve and expand, otherwise we risk being also-rans in the global race.
“This Spending Review and Autumn Statement was about reducing our budget deficit and reshaping the state. It is right that the chancellor continues to provide the nation with the headroom it needs to be able to weather the choppy global waters which may appear in the years to come, and without delay.
“Reshaping the state will in general be beneficial for the economy, because as a rule the public sector is less productive and less efficient than the private sector.
“However it is not an article of faith, there are some things that only government can and should do, markets are imperfect and markets can fail. In those circumstances it is right that government intervenes in the best interests of the economy as a whole.”