Wednesday 27 October 2021
Responding to the Chancellor's Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021, Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said:
“Today, the Chancellor has outlined a series of measures to support the UK economy’s post-pandemic recovery. Businesses will welcome initiatives to drive growth by spending on innovation and skills, and some specific sectors will enjoy much-needed support such as the simplification of alcohol duty, extension of the HGV levy suspension and freezing of vehicle excise duty.
“The provision of grants to encourage international firms to invest in the UK’s most critical and innovative industries, particularly those that will fast-track the country’s transition to a greener economy, are welcome. Measures enabling foreign companies to relocate to the UK with much greater ease and investment to attract skilled workers to the UK will be a boost for the economy. However, it is disappointing to see costs increasing for long-haul travel, which is at odds with the Government’s ‘Global Britain’ ambitions and could inhibit London’s role as a leading global city.
“Whilst the Chancellor’s announcements relating to business rates are welcome, particularly for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, businesses will be disappointed that the Budget did not include more extensive reforms to address the outdated system of rates based on the value of property.
“The Budget’s overwhelming focus on supporting ‘cities outside of London’ is also concerning, with the capital set to receive less than 2% of the first round of national funding for levelling-up projects despite having received the lion’s share of economic pain from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is of course a need to level-up the rest of the UK but this cannot be done by simply levelling down London, an outcome that would injure the whole of the national economy.
“The Chancellor’s optimistic outlook is encouraging, however this comes against a backdrop of growing COVID-related uncertainty. With the potential for economic activity to be restricted this winter, COVID-induced inflationary pressures and ongoing supply chain difficulties, businesses are feeling understandably cautious about the extent to which the Chancellor’s ‘age of optimism’ will be realised.”