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Chancellor’s Budget Supports The Stabilisation of National Economy But More Still Needs To Be Done, Says Doncaster Chamber

Dan Fell

Reacting to this week’s budget — delivered by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt — Doncaster Chamber welcomes continued efforts to stabilise our economy, even if the situation should never have become quite so strained in the first place.

On Wednesday, Mr Hunt outlined the government’s plans for public spending and taxes over the course of 2024/25, with the headline announcements including: a 2% cut in National Insurance rates (following a similar reduction in November’s Autumn statement); an imminent consultation on child benefit rules; a commitment to fund free childcare hours in a way that keeps up with skyrocketing costs; and an increase to the VAT threshold that should come as a relief to many SMEs around the country.

Yet while these are encouraging developments, that support the stabilisation of the economy and keep things pointing in just about the right direction, they are unlikely to shift the dial in any major respects.

Analysing this from a business perspective, Dan Fell, Chief Exec of Doncaster Chamber, said: “Although the government’s budget was, broadly speaking, a reassuring one, we mustn’t forget that our economy has experienced incredible turmoil over recent months & years, and that any positive steps forward we might be taking now only serve to get us closer to where we used to be. Indeed, the stakes for both the country’s population and for its business communities remain extremely high, and we still have a long way to go before we can say that things are truly stabilising.

“With that in mind, this week’s budget may not have done anything to damage the already-fragile market, but it could have, and should have, provided more in the way of economic stimulus. No big-ticket investments were announced and there are a mounting number of challenges facing the private sector that feel like they are long-overdue for a solution.

“When we responded to the Autumn Statement back in November, we stressed the need for bold policy ideas that would help restore business confidence and I feel like we must once again reiterate that call. More needs to be done to build upon the momentum of this week’s budget, otherwise the UK economy will continue to languish.

“Having said all of that, there were some welcome developments here. For instance, it was encouraging to see a bit of further investment being channelled into our childcare system. This will no-doubt help parents and businesses alike in today’s extremely tight labour market, as the former group will be facing less barriers when it comes to their professional lives and the latter will, in turn, have access to much broader range of talent.

“This is something that we have been passionately advocating for in recent months, as it was even one of the practical recommendations from our Local Skills Improvement Plan. So, it’s good to see it being acted upon. Likewise, we were pleased to see further devolution being rolled out across the country, so that localities can take greater control of their own economic destinies and so that important decisions can be made in the areas that will actually be affected by them.”



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