April 4, 2016
The NECC is pleased that our lobbying has helped secure a firm commitment to upgrade both the A66 and A69, which are vital links for businesses in the region. This was a key priority in our 2016 Manifesto and will help to build a more connected North East.
However, the chambers is disappointed that the Chancellor has not heeded our calls for further detail on big reforms such as the apprenticeship levy. The Government has said it is committed to stability yet doesn’t provide businesses with sufficient detail to plan for the future.
The Chancellor’s Budget has brought up some positive news for both personal investors and small businesses in the UK. There is no doubt that the increase in the tax-free personal allowance to £11,500 and the increase in the higher tax bracket threshold to £45,000 will benefit a great many people across the country. With regard to some of the other big headlines, however – specifically the reduction in Capital Gains Tax rates and the Government’s new Lifetime ISA – the devil will be in the detail.
The extra focus on improving northern schools is fantastic news. For the North East to reach its full potential we need to ensure our young people have the skills they need to get the jobs that exist. Moving all schools towards academy status can free up fantastic heads to create fantastic schools, but will only achieve limited results without a comprehensive programme of business engagement delivering work experience and careers guidance for each and every student.
Newcastle International Airport
I am disappointed our concerns regarding devolution of Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Scotland have not yet been addressed, as we are already seeing airline behaviour changing in response to the prospect of lower APD north of the border. That said, we understand that a decision on this matter is yet to be made. We therefore continue to call upon the Prime Minister to honour the promise made in 2015 to protect English regional airports, by matching any reductions in Scotland at non–congested airports across the rest of the UK.