Spring Statement 2018: Business reaction

March 13, 2018

CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said the Chancellor was rightly backing British business to secure the UK’s future prosperity in a new economy.

“It’s great to see an upgrade in the state of our public finances and rightly sensible to set more aside for a rainy day with Brexit uncertainty still weighing on the economy,” she said.

“The global economy is going from strength-to-strength but at the same time economic growth here at home remains lukewarm. This underlines just how vital it is to secure a Brexit that delivers for jobs and an industrial strategy that helps transform UK productivity in all corners of the country.

“Businesses and workers must move now to adapt their skill-sets to the modern economy. Upskilling existing workers and preparing young people properly for the world of work is fundamental to the technology revolution.” 

However, Ms Newton-Smith said the lack of flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy was a core concern to many firms. “So it was disappointing to miss this opportunity to tackle this issue head on,” she added.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s plea to examine ways to help small businesses deal with the “scourge” of late payment.

Chairman Mike Cherry said: “The Chancellor is absolutely right to commit the government to eliminate the scourge of late payments, which place cruel financial pressure on more than eight out of ten small businesses.

“The poor treatment of smaller suppliers by many bigger companies is both unacceptable and holds back growth and productivity.” 

The British Chambers of Commerce also welcomed the move but said the government had a role to play.

Director general Adam Marshall said: “Affected firms are often unwilling to jeopardise customer relationships by calling out bad practice. The government must use its convening power to tackle this issue in sectors where it is clear that problems exist.

“Changing payment terms mid-contract, and burying payment terms in the small print when suppliers register for business, are issues that deserve ministers’ attention.”










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