Sheffield Chamber budget reaction

Sheffield Chamber has given its reaction to today’s Budget.

Richard Wright, executive director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said:

There are a number of positives for businesses in the budget, but overall it is not exciting or goes far enough to change confidence in the private sector to stimulate growth.

Investment in infrastructure is a move in the right direction however the amount proposed is no way near enough for what is needed to underpin long-term sustainable growth. We need the figure to be closer to £10billion to provide the infrastructure required to ensure this country can compete and deal directly with markets around the world.

The Chancellor is still predicting a deficit of £114bn, but only planning an extra £3bn of infrastructure investment. We should only be borrowing to invest in our future, not to prop up things we can’t afford.

Businesses will be happy with the further reduction in corporation tax in 2015, but on the other hand this only applies to those which are making profit and more needs to be done to ensure a greater number of companies are firstly successful.

The halving of the growth forecast to 0.6 percent for 2013 is more a realistic outlook and closer to what the British Chambers of Commerce has been saying for a while now.

Meanwhile, the whole spectrum of access to finance, which covers more than just the role of the banks, needs to be developed further to boost funding to businesses. It’s therefore pleasing that the Government aims to speak to the Bank of England about the extension of the Funding for Lending scheme.

Businesses will also be pleased with the cancelation of the fuel duty increase later in the year as this would have added further costs, which would hamper growth plans.

The increase in the income tax threshold and reduction in national insurance contributions will ensure people have more money in their pockets, but it is unlikely that this will translate into more jobs. If we spend the extra £700 in our pockets on imported goods the country will be worse off!

Overall, the Chancellor always had little room for maneuver and I’m glad to see he has tried to stick to his guns to retake control of expenditure. The Government has taken measures to boost growth, but these are very small steps forward which will have little impact in generating a long-term economic recovery for the Sheffield City Region.

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