Paul Mackie, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, said of today’s Autumn Statement:
“There wasn’t much new that hadn’t already been trailed in recent days, I’m afraid. That’s disappointing, of course, but perhaps not too surprising. Having said that, we do welcome those announcements that will be of benefit to businesses in Bradford: the removal of NICs for 16-21 year olds; the business rate discount for small high street businesses; the cap on the planned business rate rise; and the doubling of export finance capacity; and the scrapping of next year’s planned fuel duty rise.
“However, we think the Government could have gone much further and not been so cautious. It’s all about politics, and not about enterprise. The more headline-grabbing measures in set-piece politics these days are saved for when they will have the most political impact, instead of economic impact, as they should be. Yes, the improved growth forecasts – whether that’s the cautious one of the Office for Budget Responsibility, or the more optimistic Bank of England one – are good news, but there’s not been enough today for businesses to think about investing more – and that’s what’s needed to propel recovery and growth forward at a faster rate.”
“There was also little or nothing to help manufacturers, like tackling energy prices. We do, though, welcome the £1 billion initiative to stimulate house-building – a particular area of the economy that has a wide impact on growth and enterprise. Housing demand continues to increase, especially in areas like Bradford with a growing young population, and so supply-side support measures need to be encouraged.”