“With confirmation that the economy looks set to slow over the coming year, the Chancellor found some wriggle room in his 2017 Budget. More needs to be done to reduce the impact of business rates on investment and growth, but today’s announcement on pegging rises to CPI, rather than RPI, will lessen the impact on hard-pressed firms in our region. West & North Yorkshire Chamber, alongside fellow Chambers around the country, campaigned hard for a reduction in the relentless rises of this iniquitous tax, and we are pleased that the Chancellor has listened and reduced the burden.
“Commitments on road and rail infrastructure, and improving mobile phone signals on key transport corridors, is welcomed as this will support local business productivity. Investing in mobile connectivity on the Trans-Pennine Express route will help businesses on the move.
“The Chancellor recognised the need for more housing and the surprise rabbit from the hat was the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers. This may ease the burden and enable more young people to get on the housing ladder, but there still needs to be a big push on developing more houses in the right locations. Otherwise, limited supply will continue to exacerbate and distort the regional market.
“Of particular note was the £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund, half of which will go automatically to those six areas with devolved powers and elected metro mayors. The other half will be made available for locations to bid into, with no guarantee of success. Surely this must serve as a wake-up call for the region’s business and civic leaders to come together and hammer out a devolution deal to ensure future funds are distributed.
“Good news also that £400m is ear-marked for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, something we feel is vital if we are to tackle air quality issues in our towns and cities while creating a market for new technologies. We also welcome money made available for digital technology and tech scale ups. This region has a strong track record in starting and scaling up businesses especially in the digi-tech sectors and we would want to companies benefit from this fund.”
The Key Points can be found (along with the above reaction) in a separate PDF here.