Business reaction to Budget 2017

UK businesses and experts are commenting on tax and spending contained within Philip Hammond’s latest Budget – here’s what they’re saying:

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“Chamber business communities wanted the Chancellor to focus on the basics – rates, roads, and ringtones – and will be pleased that they will see some action on all three fronts.

“While more remains to be done to reduce the impact of business rates on investment and growth, the Chancellor’s decisions will lessen the impact of rate rises on hard-pressed firms in many parts of the country from next April. Chambers campaigned hard for a reduction in the relentless rises of this iniquitous tax, and will be pleased that the Chancellor has listened and reduced the burden.

“Commitments to delivering road and rail infrastructure, and working to improve mobile phone signals on key transport corridors, will help support local business productivity.

“Our business communities will welcome the Chancellor’s marked focus on helping places achieve their potential. The announcement of new trains for the Tyne and Wear metro, new tax arrangements for the North Sea oil industry, devolution deals for many of our major cities including Belfast, and housing growth in the Oxford-Cambridge corridor all respond directly to key local business needs. The collective, real-world impact of these and other targeted interventions could be significant.

“Despite the inclusion of a number of announcements that will support business communities in the short term, more will still need to be done over the coming months to lay the groundwork for a successful Brexit transition. Businesses will expect greater boldness from the Chancellor – and more radical support for infrastructure and investment – once a Brexit transition period is secured and the shape of a UK-EU deal becomes clearer.”

Alan Pearce, VAT Partner at Blick Rothenberg, said: “Freezing the threshold at £85k per annum for the next two years will relieve the burden of new owner managed businesses getting established in the market. This is great news for new businesses,” said Esther Wood, partner at Blick Rothenberg.

“However, this departure from the usual increases in line with inflation will result in more small businesses having to register for VAT,”

James Lyne, Head of Research and Development at cybersecurity training specialists SANS Institute, said:

“We’re now living in a digital economy, where anything and everything can be connected or automated. Unfortunately, as we increasingly move our society and commerce online, we face two challenges – the growing opportunity for cybercriminals to attack us, and the lack of skilled security practitioners to keep these opportunistic individuals at bay. We therefore welcome the announcement today that the UK Government will invest more in building British skills in computer science and digital competencies, in addition to fortifying the current security of the nation’s mobile infrastructure.

“Computer science – which includes cyber security – is a fundamental part of the secondary school curriculum but recent reports highlighted a lack of teachers as a key reason that not all schools were offering it to their students at GCSE. While the country continues to innovate, we’re left with huge gaps within our workforce – skilled security practitioners who can defend our systems, critical infrastructure and digital economy – so it’s vital that we provide the pipeline of students to take up those roles when they leave school and university. Right now, it’s a huge challenge for organisations to hire security practitioners, mainly because we don’t have enough of them, so cyber security and computer science need to be taught from an early age as viable options for future professional careers.

Shilen Shah, Bond Strategist at Investec Wealth & Investment, said: “Brexit remains the key area of uncertainty for both GDP growth and the budget deficit, with the key unknown being whether a comprehensive deal can be achieved in both the goods and service sectors. In anticipation of costs associated with new a relationship with the EU, the government confirmed that it had already spent £750m on Brexit preparations, with a further £3bn set aside. The key risk for the economy however remains whether a service sector agreement can be reached, given that it makes up more than 80% of the economy and its one area of trade where the UK has a surplus with the EU –in contrast to the manufacturing sector.”