Businesses broadly hailed the Chancellor’s budget but felt it could have gone further to encourage them in uncertain times caused by Brexit and the struggling economy.
Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber, said: “Businesses will welcome some of the Chancellor’s announcements including the ramping up of infrastructure investment in the North, extra funds to future-proof the railway network, an extension of R&D tax credits, and freezing the VAT threshold in the near term.
“Despite the inclusion of a number of announcements that will support business communities in the short term, more will still need to be done over the coming months to lay the groundwork for a successful Brexit transition.
“Businesses will expect greater boldness from the Chancellor - and more radical support for infrastructure and investment - once a Brexit transition period is secured and the shape of a UK-EU deal becomes clearer.”
On Business Rates, the top campaign priority for Chambers of Commerce at the Autumn Budget, Alan Welsh, policy manager, said: “Businesses welcome any attempt to blunt the rise in business rates, and the switch from RPI to CPI indexation is a step in the right direction. However, this still leaves firms facing a three per cent increase in April.
"The government could have done more to boost confidence and productivity by going further, and abandoning the uprating altogether this year, given the climate of sluggish growth and uncertainty.
“With rates bills increasing further, UK firms will be dissuaded from investing in their plant and premises because they are penalised with even higher bills for doing so.”
Lytham businsessman Tony Raynor from Abbey Telecom said: “It is relieving to hear that government has made an immediate start on removing stamp duty for first time buyers. This has been long awaited by the young but business would argue it needs to go further and extend to the rest of society.
"This would kick start the housing market and increase the geographic mobility of the workforce.”
Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, said: “With costs rising and consumer demand flagging, small firms will welcome today’s business-friendly AutumnBudget.
“It was good to see the Chancellor’s speech acknowledge our concerns about the VAT threshold. Dragging thousands of more small firms into the hugely complex VAT regime would have caused a significant drag on output at an already challenging time for businesses. We look forward to working with the Government to reform this burdensome tax.
"“FSB has campaigned for CPI-indexation of business rates bill increases for months now and it’s good to see that the Chancellor has listened to the small businesses that would have been hardest hit by an RPI-linked increase.
“A move to three-yearly revaluations will go some way to making the rates system fairer over the long term. However, the delivery of this pledge must be carefully thought-through. It can’t be allowed to inadvertently place additional burdens on small firms or require them to hire a surveyor just to get their bill right.