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22nd November 2023

Autumn Statement gives hope to business

Today (Wednesday 22 November), the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement.

Paul Butterworth, CEO at Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:

“Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid is pleased that the Chancellor has listened to calls to help businesses tackle the current economic challenges by offering solutions to the ongoing investment problem, and welcomes the remedies of providing some certainty for companies wanting to invest. Businesses in Wales would have been looking to today’s Autumn Statement for a clear strategy and actions to improve long-term growth and boost investment and today’s Budget is a positive sign that businesses were wanting.

“We are delighted to hear the Chancellor championing ambitious SMEs and our high street businesses, providing useful measures that alleviate the cashflow problems they face in terms of ending late payments and making full expensing permanent to support SMEs in the short-term and incentivise investment in the long-term.

“The ongoing skills shortage is a concern for many businesses in Wales with over three quarters (77%) of Welsh businesses experiencing difficulties recruiting suitable skilled staff in Q3 of 2023, according to our Quarterly Economic Survey. Training and upskilling employees is a vital cog in economic growth for Wales and the government’s plans to support people back into work has the potential to help grow the economy. Supporting local business investment is the lifeblood of local economies, creating jobs and supporting public services.

“The new investment zones are a welcome sign that Wales’ potential is being taken seriously and the grid upgrades will be welcome news to businesses in the transition to achieving the net zero ambitions Wales has. The Chancellor has today taken a step in the right direction, but nothing can be taken for granted and we must all continue to focus on encouraging companies to grow.

“With forecasts predicting small growth increases of 0.6% this year and 0.7% in 2024, firms will be hoping that the 110 measures planned by the chancellor to help grow the economy will come to fruition.”

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, said:

“We are pleased the Chancellor has listened to our calls to help businesses deal with the current economic challenges. Our Chamber network called on Jeremy Hunt to offer ‘much needed solutions to Britain’s investment problem’.

“Today’s statement provided some welcome remedies at a time when businesses of all sizes need certainty and security from the Government in the difficult months ahead.

“The decision to make full expensing permanent will be a boost to companies wanting to invest. Our research shows that 34% of businesses have already benefited from the policy, rising to 47% for manufacturers.

“We have long called for the electricity grid to be upgraded to help companies transition to net-zero. In our recent net-zero survey, more than a third (37%) of businesses told us they were not getting what they needed from the grid, in terms of energy supply and connectivity. If we can we reduce grid connection times it will make a big difference.

“We welcome the planning reforms and investment announced by the Chancellor today to help tackle this huge infrastructure problem. Business trying to invest in a low carbon future will now be looking for a speedier path to grid connection.

“Smaller firms will be relieved to see a package of measures that alleviate the cashflow problems they face, such as continued business rates relief for hospitality, retail and leisure, and new rules to help them get paid on time.

“The Government’s plans to support people back into work have the potential to help grow the economy. There are just under a million unfilled vacancies in the UK and three quarters of businesses tell us they cannot get the staff they need. Plans to support people suffering ill health could make a real difference, but there must be a focus on getting them into work that matches their capabilities and potential.

“Business investment is the lifeblood of local economies, creating jobs and supporting public services. The Chancellor has today taken a step in the right direction, but nothing can be taken for granted and we must all continue to focus on encouraging companies to grow.”

 

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