Posted: 09/12/14 by Northamptonshire Chamber
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne, presented his final Autumn Statement before the General Election to Parliament on Wednesday 3 December.
The 2014 statement provides an update on the Government’s plans for the economy based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
In his speech, the Chancellor announced measures which placed an emphasis on supporting small businesses and first-time exporters.
Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Chamber, said: "I believe it goes some way to addressing the concerns of businesses and improving the conditions for growth."
Looking at some of the key points for business in detail, Paul commented:
In delivering his statement on the Government's future spending plans, the Chancellor announced more help for small businesses by doubling business rates relief for a further year, and an inflation-linked increase in business rates capped at 2%.
It is encouraging to hear that the Government is continuing to curb business rate increases. Business rates - now the highest in Europe - acts as a drag on investment and growth. As called for in the British Chambers Business Manifesto, governments must commit to completing a thorough review of the broken Business Rates system.
Access to finance:
The extension of the Funding for Lending scheme to increase bank lending to firms for another year and of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme shows the Chancellor is listening to the frustrations of businesses. If firms are to invest and grow, we need to support them by giving businesses access to credit. The success of this announcement will be measured by whether credit is flowing to small and medium-sized businesses.
Latest growth forecasts:
The Chancellor revealed the OBR had revised its growth forecast for this year to 3%. Growth in the UK next year is forecast higher - at 2.4%, then 2.2% in 2016, and 2.4% in 2017. The figures show the economy will grow at a good pace this year. The projections of 2.4% for 2015, then 2.2% in 2016, and 2.4% in 2017, illustrates the UK should still be able to perform well if the right policies are in place to promote growth.
We welcome the £20 million funding increase for UKTI to support first-time exporters. Firms need all the support they can get when trading overseas. The Chancellor's announcement will boost business confidence and help more companies to break into new and emerging markets.
With the General Election less than six months away, any pro-growth policies must focus on the long-term aim of rebuilding a strong economy and not last-minute vote-grabbing pledges. These policies need to support the ambitions of businesses which will in turn bring wealth and prosperity to Northamptonshire.