Hampshire Chamber responds to Spring Budget
8 March 2017
“The Chancellor once again shied away from any substantive reform of business rates, simply announcing yet another consultation. I wonder how many times the business community will have to be consulted when it is so abundantly clear that the system is unfair and broken. While we of course welcome his various measures to mitigate the impact of the latest valuations on those hardest hit, he simply hasn’t gone far enough. Those facing the largest increases will have to go cap in hand to their local authorities for discretionary relief. They will start from a disadvantaged position when they may be struggling to survive. Why not have a fair system to start with? It’s good news for those pubs who will benefit from his £1,000 business rate discount but, while some small businesses will see increases capped, there are many others in the High Street who need support.
“There was better news on the continuing downward trend in corporation tax, the big investment in technical education of 16 to 19-year-olds to keep us competitive post-Brexit, and the freezing of vehicle excise duty for another year. His support for full-fibre broadband networks is also welcome but the devil will be in the detail of delivery and roll-out which needs to happen as quickly as possible.
“Overall this was a flat Budget from a Hampshire business point of view. There was nothing about help for first-time exporters and, while there was money announced for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the North and the Midlands, there was nothing substantial on regional business support for Hampshire or the South East. He could have done much more.”