Autumn Budget 2017: Reactions to the chancellor's statement from business groups and experts

 
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Chancellor Leaves Downing Street For Budget Speech
Business groups and experts all had their two cents on the chancellor's changes (Source: Getty)

THE BUSINESS GROUP

Carolyn Fairbairn, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general

“Against a sombre economic backdrop, the Chancellor today gripped the steering wheel on the UK economy. This is a budget that balances support for people on squeezed incomes with vital action to help grow the UK out of austerity. But delivery is everything."

She added: “The challenge now is turn words into action. For Government and business, this starts next week with the Industrial Strategy.”

THE TRADE UNION

Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary

“The Chancellor’s job today was to get Britain’s economy fit for Brexit. But what he announced falls far short of the investment boost the economy needs. And it leaves us trailing our competitors.

“The government must urgently up its game, or life outside of the EU will be a rough ride for working people. Investment must be targeted at the big sectors of the future, like low-carbon industry. And it must be directed towards communities that are most in need of more and better jobs.”

THE ECONOMIST

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC

"The Chancellor had to walk a narrow tightrope between maintaining fiscal prudence and responding to widespread pressure to ease austerity. He had to do this while facing significant cross-winds from downgrades in the OBR's economic growth forecasts and consequent increases in projected public borrowing in the medium term that were slightly larger than we had expected.

“At first sight, the Chancellor just about managed to keep his balance, although the details will need further scrutiny over the coming days."

Read more responses from economists here

THE FREE MARKET THINK TANK

Ben Southwood, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute

"Philip Hammond’s budget today was unambitious, but it showed that a grown-up is in charge of the country’s finances. With Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell across the chamber, uncertainty about the Brexit deal, scandals plaguing every level of government, as well as very bad productivity and growth forecasts, it’s nice to see a budget avoid all major potential policy mis-steps and properly diagnose Britain’s most serious problems."

THE SMALL BUSINESS GROUP

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses

“Overall, this is a business-friendly Budget. The chancellor’s vision for an inclusive economy includes a set of measures that will boost confidence across the small business community as they face extremely challenging trading conditions."

THE HOUSING EXPERT

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS chairman

"The chancellor's comments were encouraging as much for what he did say as what he didn’t. Firstly, the reduction in stamp duty at the lower level is hopefully just the tonic the market needs to improve transactions for first-time buyers in particular, in both lower and higher-priced areas.

"This should have a knock-on effect for transactions right through the market and the overall economy. The fact it is a permanent move adds welcome certainty to those buying now and those thinking of buying in the future."

Read more: Hammond abolishes stamp duty for first-time buyers

THE BUSINESS COMMUNITIES LEADER

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce

“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.”

THE BUSINESS RATES EXPERT

Emily Francis, national head of rating at BNP Paribas Real Estate

“Switching the annual increase in rates bills from RPI to CPI from 1 April 2018 will save £2.3bn over five years. This was expected to be confirmed in 2020 so bringing this forward will be extremely welcome to ratepayers.

“Three-yearly property revaluations, instead of the current five-yearly pattern, will prevent large swings in premises’ rateable values that in turn will make businesses’ liability more predictable and is also a welcome move.”

Read more: London firms lifted as Hammond lets the capital keep its business rates

THE INVESTMENT SPECIALIST

Alex Davies, chief executive of Wealth Club

“Unexpectedly this has been a very good budget for VCT and EIS investors. It rewards entrepreneurial companies and investors who are prepared to take some risk to support British business. Whilst there will be restrictions on some capital preservation focused products, investments made in the spirit of EIS will benefit burgeoning business and their investors.

"With all the changes to pensions beginning to bite this type of investment is only going to grow in popularity.”

Read more: Budget: Private jet and first class travellers face rise in air travel tax

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