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Fylde reaction to Chancellor's spring statement

Chancellor Philip Hammond on the way to give his spring statement
Chancellor Philip Hammond on the way to give his spring statement

Although the economic situation still looks gloomy, business leaders across the Fylde coast found much to pin their hopes on in the Chancellors’s sporing statement.

Philip Hammond ruled out an immediate end to austerity but hinted at possible spending rises in the future maybe as soon as Autumn.

Although there were no tax and spend announcements in the 26-minute statement, he did outline plans for consultations which might feed into the Autumn Budget.

He announced studies on The tax framework relating to the giants of the digital economy; The future of cash, with a possible death-knell for little-used 1p and 2p coins; More frequent revaluation of business rates; The impact of VAT on small businesses; Cutting plastic waste.

Blackpool-based Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the look at VAT and rates both of which it said had a big impact of local businesses.

National Chairman Mike Cherry, said: “The Chancellor has sent a clear message to UK boardrooms today by committing to ending the late payment crisis that destroys 50,000 businesses a year. We look forward to working with the Chancellor and his team to eliminate the scourge of late payments. Ending the late payment crisis could add £2.5bn to our economy annually and help close the productivity gap.

“VAT is the most time-consuming tax for small firms to handle. A small VAT-registered firm spends more than a working week a year complying with the tax on average.

“We welcome the fact that the VAT review launched today considers pro-business solutions to the challenge of small firms bunching before the threshold, such as phasing-in VAT obligations for small firms as they start to bring in more than £85,000.

“FSB has long called for more frequent business rates revaluations. By delivering on their promise to make these a reality, the Government could make the rates regime fairer.”

Tony Medcalf, tax partner at MHA Moore and Smalley, said: “We were told not to expect any fireworks in this autumn statement and the chancellor was true to his word.

“He made reference to quite a few issues that would be of interest to the business community, such as more money to help small firms engage with apprentices and taking action to tackle late payments, but didn’t give further details.

“On the whole, I think business owners will be relieved that there are no new major initiatives to have to try and get their head around.”

Babs Murphy from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: "Businesses will be heartened by the Chancellor’s report on the UK’s fiscal health, with lower forecasts for the deficit and falling national debt, as well as his defence of the market economy and the role of the private sector in delivering prosperity .

“UK productivity is still expected to remain subdued over the next few years, and could weigh more on overall economic activity than the OBR’s GDP growth forecast currently suggests. Productivity continues to be hampered by the deep-rooted problems in our economy, from the skills gap to chronic underinvestment in the UK’s infrastructure.

“The OBR is right to highlight the risk of a disorderly Brexit, as a sudden departure from the EU would be likely to trigger a marked weakening in economic conditions.

“Against this backdrop, the focus of the Autumn budget must be on delivering a fiscal consolidation plan that achieves a more sustainable balance between deficit reduction and boosting productivity and growth, including using its greater fiscal headroom to deliver urgently needed infrastructure investment.

“We are pleased that the government has listened to our calls to make revaluations more frequent. Switching to a three-year-cycle will go some way to reducing the huge changes in rates bills that clobber firms across the UK, and enable them to plan their growth strategies with greater confidence.

“However, a system that responds more frequently to changing economic conditions must also be simpler for firms to navigate. The current system already generates a huge number of appeals, and if it is not made easier for companies, more frequent valuations would simply make this backlog mushroom.”