Chair, North East Local Enterprise Partnership
This is a budget that recognises that we face a range of challenges but is focussed on preparing the economy for the future. The Chancellor has prioritised actions that can strengthen the UK’s competitiveness through innovation, skills and investment in housing and infrastructure. I fully support devolution to the North East and welcome its announcement by the Chancellor. We also welcome the £337m investment in the Tyne & Wear Metro system. The Transforming Cities Fund, which will invest £1.7bn into transport infrastructure and the commitments to develop the next generation of 5G technologies, were also positive. The North East can play a key role in testing and delivering 5G for the UK. I also welcome the £20m to help further education colleges prepare for the new T-levels.
Carolyn Fairbairn (pictured)
Director-general, Confederation for British Industry
Action on business rates, R&D tax credits, the National Productivity Investment Fund and Brexit planning will help firms to invest and grow against an uncertain Brexit backdrop while it was good to see focused investment in the long-term drivers of growth that underpin sustainable prosperity. Building a skills system that supports the 4th industrial revolution is the right ambition, but the
approach needs to be joined-up with the National Retraining Partnership delivering a stable approach and apprenticeship levy flexibility. Additional investment in infrastructure will help tackle regional inequalities. And by making the most of tomorrow’s technologies, including increasing investment in R&D and fuelling innovation the Government will help create a virtuous circle by drawing in private sector funding. The challenge now is turn words into action.
National chairman, Federation of Small Businesses
It was good to see the Chancellor’s speech acknowledge small businesses’ concerns about the VAT threshold. Dragging thousands of more small firms into the hugely complex VAT regime would have caused a significant drag on output at an already challenging time for businesses. We look forward to working with the government to reform this burdensome tax. Small firms spend more than a working week a year complying with VAT obligations on average. It’s time that should be spent growing their firms. The promise to tackle VAT evasion by online overseas sellers is welcome. No business should be gaining an unfair advantage by evading tax.
Head of policy and campaigns, North East England Chamber of Commerce
Our campaigning ahead of this budget has been successful on a number of important issues for the North East. We wanted new Metro trains as a matter of priority and are delighted these are now on their way. As part of our desire to see a more influential North East we had asked for more funding and powers for Tees Valley and
completion of a North of Tyne devolution deal. It is great news that the Chancellor has listened on both of these issues. Ahead of the budget, we also called on the Government to get serious about the need to change the distribution of investment and economic activity in the UK. The announcements made are a big step forward but we await the long-term shift in Government thinking which will hopefully come forward in the publication of the Industrial Strategy.