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2016 Autumn Statement: the business reaction

23 Nov 2016

Business groups have responded to the upcoming changes announced in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s inaugural Autumn Statement speech.

Commenting on the government’s plans to implement business rates reductions, Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), commented: ‘Our members are pleased with the confirmation of plans to reduce £6.7 billion from the business rates system, and the decision to make rural rate relief fairer for small firms.’

Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), praised the Chancellor’s package of ‘responsible, solid and focused’ measures, stating: ‘Increased resources for local and regional transport infrastructure, broadband, housing and innovation will boost business confidence at a critical moment.

‘The Chancellor’s strong focus on the growth requirements of our cities, regions and nations will not go unnoticed in business communities across the UK.’

Meanwhile, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), commented on the forecast for wage growth issued to the government by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR): ‘Today’s OBR forecast shows that the average annual wage will be £1,000 lower in 2020 than predicted at the Budget. And this is on top of wages still having not recovered to their 2007 levels.

‘This is yet another blow to ordinary working people’s standard of living. And far from being focused on ‘just about managing’ families, this shows up the government’s plans as inadequate.’

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements, saying: ‘The Chancellor has prioritised a pragmatic down payment on future productivity growth. His emphasis on R&D, housing and local infrastructure will help businesses in all corners of the UK to invest with greater confidence for the long-term, during turbulent times. This will be warmly welcomed.

‘Reducing the frequency of fiscal events along with the commitment to stick with the tax roadmap will provide stability for businesses. Importantly, the new fiscal rules provide the government with welcome flexibility, while remaining prudent in uncertain times.’