With Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement being both hailed – and disputed – as a fiscal impetus for growth and the biggest tax cut for decades, business leaders from across the North East deliver their verdicts.
Gareth Hooper, CEO of DPP Planning, which has offices in Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, London, and Cardiff, said: “The Chancellor’s intention to speed up planning is admirable and, if achieved, will help to relieve backlogs, and encourage businesses to bring applications forward.
“However, local authorities will cite a lack of resources to deliver current levels of levels of applications. Without additional investment they will not have the people and infrastructure to deliver the prompt service the Chancellor wants, which will mean they will also lose out by having to return fees, putting local authorities under even more strain.”
Karl Pemberton, managing director of Active Chartered Financial Planners, which is based in Thornaby, Teesside, said: “It’s clear that the Chancellor’s focus was on productivity in both the public and private sectors and supporting business growth.
“The indefinite extension of full expensing is fantastic for organisations with high-cost investments or those scaling up, but disappointingly, there was little direct support across the board, such as a corporation tax cut, which would have offered flexibility and security for all businesses to invest for growth immediately.”
Ben Quaintrell, founder and managing director of North East estate agency group My Property Box, said there was little in the Autumn Statement that related to the need to deliver more homes.
He said: “A cut in stamp duty had been forecast, along with calls to reform the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme, which restricts qualifying loans to 4.5 times that of income. Given the current higher mortgage rates, both initiatives would have encouraged more people onto the property ladder and, as a result, can be viewed as missed opportunities.
“However, I very much welcome the measures to relieve the financial pressures on particularly low income families, many of whom are dependent on the rental sector.
“This includes a 6.7% increase in Universal Credit and other benefits, a 2% cut in National Insurance, and the uprating of Local Housing Allowance rates to cover the cheapest 30% of properties – which will give 1.6m households an average of £800 extra.
“It could also encourage more investors into the rental market, reducing the shortage of properties.”
Tania Cooper MBE, Chair of the North East STEM Foundation and managing director at Middlesbrough-based Steel Benders UK Ltd., said: “I welcome the Chancellor’s £50 million pilot investment in apprenticeship training for engineering. This commitment underscores the pivotal role engineering plays in the British economy.
“The funds must be used in a proactive way, which supports both businesses and young people by creating apprenticeship opportunities to impart the essential skills necessary for success in our rapidly evolving economic landscape.
“Additionally, the 21 per cent increase in the minimum hourly wage for apprentices, from £5.28 to £6.40, is a positive step towards attracting and retaining young talent in apprenticeships. This not only addresses the skills shortage but also ensures that Britain remains competitive on the global stage by fostering a workforce with the expertise and capabilities required for success in the 21st century.”