A mixed reaction to chancellor’s spring statement

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, gestures, as he delivers his first spring statement in the House of Commons
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, gestures, as he delivers his first spring statement in the House of Commons
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BUSINESS leaders have had a mixed reaction to the chancellor’s spring statement.

Philip Hammond’s announcement yesterday in the House of Commons left some saying he needed to do more on rates, while an MP hailed a booming economy.

Ross McNally, Executive Chair at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

Ross McNally, Executive Chair at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

He is set to bring forward the next business rates revaluation from 2022 to 2021, and crackdown on late payments to small businesses.

It comes as the chancellor hinted he will turn on the spending tap in this autumn’s budget after positive public finance figures pointed to ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ following years of austerity.

The government is set to run a ‘small’ surplus on day-to-day spending in 2018/19, borrowing only for capital.

The Office for Budget Responsibility expects Mr Hammond to hit his target of reducing the structural deficit below two per cent in 2020/21 with £15.4 billion to spare.

Executive chair of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Ross McNally, said: ‘He still needs to do more on business rates, an iniquitous tax that takes no account of profits or ability to pay.

‘The chancellor indicated support for small firms keen to employ apprentices but the complexity and rigidity of the apprenticeship levy is affecting larger businesses and needs to be addressed.

‘We are pleased he is looking to use the government’s convening power to tackle late payments which can cause huge problems for small businesses and suppliers.’

Tim Walker, managing director of IT firm Aura Technology said he hopes the government will invest heavily in road plans for the A27.

He said: ‘We urgently need some of that invested in the local infrastructure, particularly along the A27 around Chichester.’

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes said: ‘With debt beginning to fall as a share of GDP, this really is a turning point for our economy.’