Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has praised Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget for delivering measures to boost business investment and promote growth.
He increased the Annual Investment Allowance to £1m, something the British Chambers of Commerce had specifically asked for, and he went some way to meeting several of the BCC’s other demands.
There was extra money for roads, a freeze in fuel duty and a cut in business rates for smaller retailers. And the Chancellor halved the amount smaller businesses have to pay towards the cost of training apprentices.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Chancellor deserves credit for listening to what we were telling him.
“We know from our research that business investment is stalling and recruitment is tailing off but the measures he announced should help to reverse that.
“We’d have liked him to go further on business rates. The whole system needs reform but his help for smaller retailers is a step in the right direction.”
Rob believes that the increase in the income tax personal allowance to £12,500 next April – a year earlier than planned – will give consumers more in their pockets to spend.
He added: “It was a give-away, box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers kind of Budget as the Chancellor proclaimed that the ‘era of austerity is finally coming to an end’.
It was a give-away, box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers kind of Budget …
“There was money for health, schools, housing, local authorities, defence, money to lessen the impact of the roll out of Universal Credit and crowd-pleasing freeze in duties on beer, cider and spirits.
“It could be that he’s laying the ground for an early General Election if the Brexit talks go badly.
“We’re pleased that the Chancellor is extending the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme that helps unemployed people start their own business – Cumbria Chamber delivers that in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside and it has helped to start 6,500 businesses so far.
“There was one disappointment though. We were hoping he would announce a Borderlands Growth Deal. Instead, he said that negotiations are continuing but the deal isn’t ready. A Growth Deal would bring extra money for transport schemes, skills and other projects to boost the economy of the region straddling the England/Scotland border. The sooner it’s agreed the better.”
You are invited to join us for our Autumn Budget Response Breakfast at Rheged on Wednesday 31st October.
The event begins at 8am with a buffet breakfast and concludes around 10am and you can book here.
Also see Initial BCC reaction to Budget 2018: A shot in the arm for business investment and growth here.
Listen to Rob Johnston speaking on BBC Radio Cumbria
Overall reaction, business rates, apprenticeships and town centre redevelopments
More reaction to the Budget, starting with the Borderlands Growth Deal, digital tax and the Spring Statement 2019
See the Chamber’s Budget response on That’s TV Cumbria