In response to the first Autumn Statement delivered by the new Chancellor, it is safe to say there were plenty of areas that need digesting and thinking about – especially around identifying what the impact will be on our members and their businesses. We will have to wait for more information and detail before we ascertain what these will be.
Our initial reaction
Our initial thoughts are that we were disappointed to see that Phillip Hammond has not gone further to support small businesses post-Brexit. The Forum believes the Chancellor could have been bolder in some of his decisions and done more to simplify an increasingly complicated and confusing tax system.For our members, the Autumn Statement can be summarised by saying that there are areas where they will benefit but, on the other hand, there are others where they will be hit.
Five key areas that caught our attention were:
The £23 billion national productivity investment fund. We need more information about this to understand whether any of our members will benefit from this impressive figure?
The investment in long-term infrastructure projects will be supported by the £1.8 billion going into the English regions. Our members will welcome the long-term activity but will be left asking what are you doing to support small businesses in the short term? This will lead to more uncertainty.
The increase in the national living wage from £7.20 to £7.50 is welcomed but it adds another level of cost to small businesses many of whom can’t even afford to pay themselves that figure.
The 5G investment is welcome and great where there is a connection. But what about linking the rural communities and businesses that don’t have any connection at all at the moment? In this digital age surely this needs addressing?
Tax keeps getting lots of changes against a background of the UK’s huge and complicated tax system. It would be good to see the Chancellor doing something to simplify the system rather than just making tweaks that give with one hand and take away with another.
Read the Forum’s press release
The Forum reacted within 15 minutes of the end of the Autumn Statement with a press release stating that “The Forum of Private Business gives Chancellor 6/10 for his Autumn Statement” adding that they are “…disappointed that he has not gone further to support small businesses in the post-Brexit era. “ The statement went on to explain how the Forum is continuing to push for a simplification of the UK tax system and removal of red tape.
Ian Cass captures the Forum’s reaction: