2018 Spring Statement - the business reaction

13 Mar 2018

Business groups have responded to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement speech.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) gave a broadly positive response, and welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to tackling the issue of late payments to small firms. Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, stated: ‘The Chancellor is absolutely right to commit the government to eliminate the scourge of late payments, which place cruel financial pressure on more than eight out of ten small businesses.

‘The Chancellor explicitly put himself on the side of the UK’s millions of small businesses and self-employed.’

The response from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), however, was decidedly lukewarm. Commenting on the speech, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said: ‘As deficit and debt levels improve, the Chancellor must resist calls to pour money into politically-attractive, short-term spending priorities.

‘A far stronger push is needed to fund and fix the fundamentals here in the UK over the coming months, and business wants the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to double down and spend to improve digital connectivity, deliver further road and rail improvements, strengthen the UK’s energy security and build more houses.’

Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) praised the Chancellor for backing British businesses to ‘secure the UK’s future prosperity in a new economy’.

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the CBI, said: ‘It’s great to see an upgrade in the state of our public finances, and rightly sensible to set more aside for a rainy day with Brexit uncertainty still weighing on the economy.

‘The CBI has long called for just one Budget in a year, creating more room for the government and business to get to work. But the Spring Statement is still important, and this one has proved more than welcome in setting the tone and vision for the country’s economic future.’

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