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Forum of Private Business responds to the Autumn Statement

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Phil Orford MBE, Chief Executive at the Forum of Private Business, said:

“The Chancellor was keen to provide a much needed boost for Britain’s small businesses and there were some positive measures in today’s speech which will go a long way to helping reduce costs and improving business confidence. Whether this will be enough as we enter a period of uncertainty at the start of next year remains to be seen.

“Business rates have been an ongoing concern for a large number of our members, with 55% in a recent poll seeing this significant barrier to business growth. It is good to see that the Chancellor has agreed with our suggestions of short term measures to reduce the pain of excessive property taxation with continued a continued cap of 2%, a £1,500 discount for retail properties and an extension on Small Business Rates Relief.

"While we also welcome the Chancellor’s decision to answer our repeated calls for a proper review of the system and the way in which it is calculated, the devil will definitely be in the detail. With the review scheduled for after the General Election, we are keen to see all parties commit to making concrete moves to tackle an issue that many businesses feel has needed addressing for some time.

“Announcements of additional British Business Bank funding and the extension of the Funding for Lending scheme are also welcome measures to address ongoing small business confidence issues around the ability to obtain the finance they need to grow.

"On the announcements of further scoping and development of a Northern Powerhouse incorporating several major cities, and increased tax raising powers to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, our members see this as a very positive further step in re-balancing our economy, not only in terms of financial services and manufacturing, but also in a commitment to support major regional and local development plans outside of London and the south-east.

"While we applaud the increase in R&D tax credits - a successful driver for innovation, we would have preferred the relief to have been focussed on the formulation of a new Export Tax Credit to incentivise and support new exporters in riskier overseas markets"

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