Business leaders react to yesterday’s Economic Statement

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  Posted by: electime      9th July 2020

In yesterday’s mini Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled further plans to boost the economy after the coronavirus-imposed lockdown in the UK.

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement of a Green Homes Grant George Webb, CEO of Liquid Gas UK said:

“The £5,000 grants for household energy efficiency is clearly welcome, but we need to see what measures will be apply for when the scheme opens in September. There should be a range of measures included in this fund, so that it can be used by people up and down the country, including in rural areas which are notoriously inefficient.

“Households and landlords should be able to upgrade highly-polluting oil boilers and solid fuel heating systems, onto new energy efficient and low-carbon solutions such as LPG. This, alongside the revision of the flawed methodology behind Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), would incentivise and help kick start the decarbonisation of rural areas, which is crucial if the UK Government wants to meet its Net Zero target.”

Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director of Studio Graphene said:
“The Government’s commitment to subsidise work placements and traineeship programmes is a positive investment in young people’s futures, and will ease the burden on SMEs; particularly those who have perhaps put their hiring plans on hold due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. It is the stimulus small businesses need to bolster their workforce as they return to normality.

“That said, further tax breaks and economic incentives are needed if we hope to catalyse SMEs for sustained economic recovery. Despite the scale of the Chancellor’s efforts to date, the future of many small businesses still hangs in the balance and they cannot wait until the Autumn Budget for a bolder stimulus package.”

Nic Redfern, Finance Director of said: 
“The looming threat of mass unemployment is rightly attracting a lot of attention. In particular, the pandemic has decimated the retail and hospitality sectors, which typically employ young people – so it is the under-30s who the Chancellor is clearly keen to get back into work.

“To that end, today’s announcement of a “kickstart jobs scheme” is vitally important. It certainly could not wait until the Autumn Budget, with employers needing incentives to hire, train and retain staff in the weeks ahead.

“Alone, however, it will not be enough; more must be done to ensure new jobs are made available to those who have lost theirs during the COVID-19 crisis. Importantly though, since March the Chancellor has given businesses and workers plenty of reasons to be confident that further, decisive action will be taken to help them out of this challenging situation.”

Atul Bhakta, CEO of One World Express said: 
“The Chancellor quite rightly wants to find ways to get people back into work, but this will take many, many month. While short-term measures are necessary – and the ‘kickstart’ job scheme is a good first step – it is slightly disappointing to see a lack of long-term thinking at present. After all, the best way to tackle unemployment is to help UK businesses grow, in turn ensuring they hire more staff and aid the economic recovery.

“Away from this mini-Budget, the reports that Boris Johnson is seeking ambitious free trade plans in the coming months must be welcomed and I implore the Government to unveil more details on these plans. What’s more, I would like to see further incentives such as tax breaks for small businesses and private sector investment into high-growth startups; doing so will provide the boost required so SMEs can shift their from survival to growth.”

Sabby Gill, MD, Sage UKI, commented on how more needs to be done to boost innovation and digitalisation as ways to return to growth:

“The Chancellor has made for a strong summer of ‘bricks and burgers’ but the absence of a great digital led growth agenda was a missed opportunity to accelerate a plan for all seasons.

“The Government has failed to grasp the inspiring power of opportunity – without a strong package of measures to stimulate entrepreneurship, such as incentives for digital investment, British SMEs stand exposed to future crises and a potential second wave despite the bold steps they are taking to fight back. We need resilient and innovative SMEs to drive global trade and promote growth in the long term.

“SMEs require urgent action and cannot wait until the Autumn Statement, when many are fighting for survival at this moment. We hope to see more on the following measures in the coming weeks to get the economy back to full health as quickly as possible:

“Firstly, with Brexit looming many SMEs want to increase their revenues from trade and reach new markets.  The Government must urgently start to prepare SMEs for Brexit with simple steps they need to take, it should extend the new Export Academy for tech sectors to other sectors with propensity to export more and should fund regional export strategies.

“Secondly, we are encouraged by the ‘Plan for Jobs’ announced today which may go some way to temper the growing furlough ‘bubble’, with as many as 9.3m jobs at risk once the scheme comes to an end in October.  However, the Government must find other routes to create jobs, for example by encouraging entrepreneurialism and equipping the unemployed with essential business skills to get a business up and running by the apprenticeship levy.

“Lastly, businesses’ moves to recovery depends on access to the technology that will underpin a successful recovery.  Immediate support to invest in technology will improve productivity and create jobs in the long term. There are a number of ways Government could do this. For example offering businesses digital vouchers or grants, linking loan repayment relief on CBILS and Bounce Back Loans to technology investment or allowing them to claim a reduction against their tax bill of 200% of the value of the investment.”