BCC REACTION TO CHANCELLOR'S SPEECH
September 29 2014.


Commenting on the speech by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rt Hon George Osborne MP, John Longworth British Chambers of Commerce Director General said:


“The Chancellor made a blistering affirmation about the importance of the UK's economic progress - brushing aside nimbyism and those who don't believe growth is essential for Britain's future. He correctly identified that economic growth is a pre-condition for delivering the public services that we all want, such as pensions, NHS and education. The Chancellor has also committed not to duck big decisions on national infrastructure projects including aviation, rail and roads. Businesses are used to hearing these pledges, but will always judge politicians on whether they actually deliver.

“However there were two pieces missing. We would have liked the Chancellor’s speech to address access to finance, as this is so important to raising business investment and long-term sustainable growth. Also a commitment to export support should be a government priority, as it is vital to re-balancing the economy.”

On the economy and deficit reduction:
“The Chancellor's ambition for UK growth is in stark contrast to others in the political discourse, some of whom seem to have accepted a 'new normal' of low growth.

“Businesses will support the Chancellor's continued commitment to mend Britain's public finances. Above all, companies value certainty, consistency and predictability when it comes to economic policy - so it is pleasing to see the measures announced by the Chancellor are in keeping with the goal of getting the deficit down.”

On pensions:
“Putting money into a pension pot is not only important for the financial health of individuals, it's important for the health of the economy too. Savings underpin investment and we need to do more as a country to boost business investment. This must go hand in hand with measures to boost savings. So we welcome the Chancellor's announcement to abolish the so called 'death tax' to give people an additional incentive to save for their retirement.”

On welfare cuts to fund apprenticeships:
“The Chancellor made the correct link between skills and immigration, as the people of Britain should be able to compete for jobs in an open market. With our open borders, the only way to do this is by ensuring the UK has a highly skilled workforce that businesses want to employ.

“The commitment to raise the level of public investment in apprenticeships will be supported by business. Increasing the number of apprenticeships from two million to three million over the next five years is a challenging but worthy aspiration. As an economy that relies on knowledge and skills, training our young people is as important as the infrastructure of our nation such as our roads, railways and airports.

“We agree with the supporting package of welfare measures that do more to make work pay for young people, and ensure that the funding is available for the additional apprenticeships.”