FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Forum of Private Business has given the Chancellor 6/10 for his first Autumn Statement, disappointed that he has not gone further to support small businesses in the post Brexit era.
‘The freeze on fuel duty is welcome for all those businesses involved in transport, and the initiatives to support house builders will be good for those businesses in the construction sector, and its supply chain, ‘ says Ian Cass, the Chief Executive of the Forum, ‘but there is not much good news for our high street businesses, and importing manufacturers who are suffering at the hands of the weak pound, and who have no real indication of what a post Brexit UK will look like’
The Forum believes that the Chancellor could have been much bolder. ‘It is a pity that the Chancellor did not take the opportunity to change the dividend threshold from the existing 5% to 10% as suggested in our 10 point plan, and that the planned reduction in Corporation Tax to 15%, promoted by George Osborne in his final budget, does not appear to have been formerly confirmed by Philip Hammond. This would have gone some way to compensating for the difficulties that some businesses are now facing. It is really disappointing that he has opted for caution over stimulus,’ adds Ian Cass.
The absence of any specific incentives to improve skills through training is an opportunity lost. ‘Small businesses find it very difficult to attract the talent that they need to succeed, and a reinforcement of the Apprenticeship agenda would have been a move in the right direction,’ says Ian Cass. 'As we read through the finer detail over the coming days we hope that there will be some recognition of this. Not having it as a major issue to be addressed is disappointing.'
The Forum continues to push for a simplification of the UK tax system and the removal of red tape. ‘Business owners continually find themselves being drawn away from production and growing their businesses as they grapple with the country’s massively complicated regulatory environment, and it is disappointing that yet again the opportunity has been missed to make life easier for small businesses,’ added Ian Cass. 'This is particularly apposite if businesses are to benefit from the newly announced Productivity Fund, the fine print of which many businesses will be eagerly awaiting'.
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