Welcome News for Business Investment As the Chancellor Finally Starts To Plot a Route Through Challenging Economic Waters
Doncaster Chamber has welcomed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, applauding how it unveiled new measures to encourage business investment, to support SMEs and to help the UK transition to a modern, Net-Zero economy.
With inflation easing — albeit likely to remain high in the mid-term — and growth still sluggish, there was a palpable need to boost business confidence and support investment that will in turn promote recovery. In this respect, the Chamber network was at the forefront of lobbying for Government to back British business.
Yesterday, the Chancellor announced a number of business-friendly measure including the permanent retention of full expensing; a scheme that allows firms to offset capital investment against corporation tax, which is currently estimated to be worth £11bn per year. In addition to this, the statement also announced an extra £4.5bn funding to support green technology and manufacturing and £500m towards a network of innovation centres focused on building the UK’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities.
Elsewhere, changes in national insurance for the self-employed, simplified tax relief for R&D and the retention of business rate relief for the hospitality and retail sectors were also unveiled, in recognition of the hardship that is continuing to be felt post-pandemic (and that has been compounded by the cost of living crisis).
Speaking after Doncaster Chamber’s Annual General Meeting yesterday, Chief Executive Dan Fell commented: “We welcome the positive announcements made by the Chancellor, which include measures that our businesses need and deserve in such difficult economic times. Encouraging investment is crucial for sustainable growth and the additional funding to support the transition to Net-Zero and to embrace modern technology certainly helps alleviate some of the concerns felt by our business community following recent announcements.
“Nonetheless, concern remains in the private sector about the recent softening of the UK’s Net-Zero ambitions and timetable. Ambiguity and inconsistency are not conducive to developing business confidence and more consistent signaling from the Government is needed in this area.
He continued: “Closer to home, we also welcome the announcement that financial incentives for our South Yorkshire Investment Zone will be extended from 5 to 10 years. We congratulate regional and national government working together on this, as it shows it can be done. Doncaster is poised to be at the cutting-edge of high technology manufacturing growth, boosted by the reopening of our Airport, so we urge Government to remain committed to fully supporting our ambitions here.
“With all of that said, yesterday’s Autumn Statement was filled with welcome news and we are pleased to see that the Chancellor has listened to the Chamber network and to the voice of business. Nonetheless, it must be pointed out that the economy needn’t have been in such a fragile state after an unnecessarily tumultuous year, and that there are still a number of other problems that are long overdue for a solution. Government cannot afford to rest on its laurels then, and must develop upon yesterday’s welcome announcements to build some positive momentum and ensure we can fully restore the confidence that has been lost over recent years.”