BCC provides its full response to March 2021 Budget

3rd March 2021

Giving his reaction to the Chancellor’s budget, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said:

“There’s much to welcome in this Budget for business communities across the UK. The Chancellor has listened and acted on our calls for immediate support to help struggling businesses reach the finish line of this gruelling marathon and to begin their recovery. Extensions to furlough, business rates relief and VAT reductions give firms a fighting chance not only to restart, but also to rebuild.  

“We particularly welcome the massive ‘super deduction’ investment incentive that the Chancellor has put in place for the next two years. This responds directly to our call to encourage those businesses that can to invest and grow.  

“While no business will relish paying higher rates of Corporation Tax in future, the impact of the Chancellor’s tough decision is blunted by the big new incentives for investment, lower rates for the smallest firms, and the extension of Coronavirus support measures in the short term. 

“This Budget provides reassurance to businesses, provided that they are able to restart and rebuild according to the Government’s road map. If firms face unexpected bumps in the road, the Chancellor must be prepared to take action until the economy is firing on all cylinders again.”   

The British Chambers of Commerce provides its full response to the Budget 2021 

Commenting on the latest forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said: 

“The OBR’s central forecast provides a more upbeat outlook for the UK economy with the vaccine rollout expected to drive a faster recovery. Even with the mass vaccine rollout, the economic scarring already caused by the pandemic, including structural unemployment, rising private debt levels and weak investment, may mean that any recovery is slower than the OBR predicts.  

“While the OBR highlights significant fiscal challenges, the chancellor should tread carefully in managing the future path of fiscal consolidation to avoid suffocating the recovery.” 

Commenting on the Recovery Loan scheme, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said: 

“Accessing finance remains crucial to the lifeblood of a business and so the announcement of a new loan scheme to succeed CBILS and BBLS is welcome. The acid test for the new scheme will be whether it is able to support the recovery by getting credit flowing to the firms who most need it.  

“The scheme must be right from day one to ensure that businesses and banks can use it to help SMEs return to growth. Businesses will need an approach to operation of the new scheme that is clear, consistent and considerate to the impact of the pandemic on their financial position. 

Commenting on the super deduction investment incentive, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said: 

“We pleased that the Chancellor has listened to our call for bold incentives to encourage companies to invest. Super deduction will provide a major enticement for firms to invest and grow, helping to boost productivity and the wider economic recovery.” 

Commenting on those who have fallen through gaps in government support, Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director at the BCC, said: 

“Despite the widening of the self-employment support scheme, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been unable to access any government support since the start of the pandemic. Many require help if they are to navigate a difficult few months ahead before the economy is able to reopen more fully.” 

Commenting on the Help to Grow scheme, Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the BCC, said: 

“To boost productivity, businesses of all sizes need to invest more in skills and innovation. Funded access to high quality, flexible management training will help SMEs maximise the growth potential of innovation, but it must also give managers the skills to understand the training and development needs of its adult workforce and increase the   digital and technical skills needed for the rapidly changing workplace.” 

Commenting on incentives for apprenticeships and other training schemes, Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the BCC, said:  

“Apprenticeships and jobs with training opportunities and have been severely impacted by the pandemic, particularly for young people.  

“We welcome this additional investment in traineeships, employer incentives and more flexible apprenticeships that will help businesses create more high-quality earning and learning opportunities for people and boost skills in the workplace.”  

Commenting on the announcement that HM Treasury’s ‘Treasury North’ campus will move to Darlington, Jonathan Walker, Director of Policy at North East England Chamber of Commerce, said:  

"We're delighted that the Chancellor has chosen to base Treasury North in our region. This is a real vote of confidence in Darlington and the whole North East. This must represent the first step in a long-term change in Treasury decision making that recognises the specific needs of regions such as ours.” 

Commenting on the announcement that the UK Infrastructure Bank will be located in Leeds, Sandy Needham DL, Chief Executive of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: 

“Announcements by the Chancellor to locate the UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds is welcomed by the Chamber. Leeds has a long history in banking and finance, being the commercial capital of Yorkshire; and the bank will have access to a deep pool of talent from across our region.  

“Looking to the future, government investment in infrastructure will see many multiples of investment from the private sector and as a Chamber we will lobby to ensure this is directed towards schemes which will help level up the UK economy.” 

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