Here’s what some leaders from around the Tees business community have to say about Wednesday’s Autumn Budget…
Andy Preston, Middlesbrough businessman and philanthropist:
“Clearly money is very tight, but in the context of that consideration, this is a good budget. There were positive steps to close the gap between rich and poor, and there are even measures to tackle the issue of plastic pollution, which is something I feel quite strongly about.
“Bringing forward the planned move for business rates to be liked to CPI instead of RPI is a positive step in the right direction. This means that small businesses looking to acquire office space in order to grow will find could find the move more affordable. This will also hopefully go some way to mending the broken commercial property market in the North East, where you can buy whole office buildings for a fraction of the price that they were worth when they were built ten years ago. If there are more businesses that can afford to rent offices, the value of the properties should stabilise.
“But my concern is that more money needs to be targeted at public services and job creation, and not so much at preserving wealth. This budget goes some way to do that, but there is still considerable work to be done.”
Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute:
“The £123m pledge to the South Tees Development Corporation is a massive boost, which will help rejuvenate the former SSI site in Redcar and help realise the region’s economic potential through private investment that will lead to the creation of more jobs in the area.
“The Chancellor’s increased commitment to R&D was another welcome boost and a good, ambitious starting point. Moving towards spending on R&D to 3% of GDP, in due course, would be more in line with other advanced economies, so I’d like to see this initial 2.4% pledge develop further, which will help unlock the Government’s Industrial Strategy aspirations.
“The rise in R&D tax credits was another measure that will ease the burden on pioneering companies and SMEs investing in innovation to develop new products and processes. However, more collaboration and, in particular, innovation diffusion is required to provide small businesses with the access to finance and research capabilities to support their growth potential.”
Steve Grant, Managing Director of TTE:
“The money secured for the former steel plant in the Budget is a significant step forward for the region. This site has tremendous potential for Redcar and the wider Teesside area and can support high quality, skilled jobs while also attracting further new investment to the area.
“Increasing the amount of vocational, technical training in the education system will be an essential element of maximising the benefits of the site and we are looking forward to working with businesses keen on the site. Building on our industrial legacy, Teesside can have a major role to play in the country’s industrial future.”
Steve Pearson, executive chairman of Phusion IM:
“It was a positive budget that has outlined further funding towards the UK’s technology sector. It’s encouraging to see the government recognising the significance of the digital era and taking measures to enhance the great talent this country has to offer.
“The Chancellor included measures to boost the UK’s productivity. But this doesn’t go far enough. This country has always prided itself as a leading innovator, but as single businesses, we often try to keep the path to success private, in the fear that a competitor might learn something that would give them the upper hand. We need to see greater collaboration between businesses, including competitors, if we are to see a significant improvement in national productivity.
“Because we may be the sum of our own machines, but we are also cogs in the national machine, making it our best interest for others to succeed.”
Jonathan Willett, director of Henderson Insurance Brokers Stockton:
“I was expecting another hike in insurance premium tax (IPT), so I was naturally delighted to see the current 12% rate unchanged. It has doubled since 2015, which has put additional strains on the insurance industry and people’s premiums. It is another unseen cost, which impacts on households and businesses, and this will be broadly welcomed.”
Coast & Country chief executive Iain Sim:
“The budget touched on a number of issues important to housing associations, significant extra resources for estate regeneration and housing infrastructure in particular. This puts organisations like Coast & Country at the heart of delivering new homes, and we will need much more support if we are to help the Government reach its goal of 300,000 new homes per year by 2020.
“The shorter waiting period for Universal Credit, and support for new claimants already in receipt of Housing Benefit, will do a lot to help people who otherwise may have been disadvantaged. The investment in the SSI site is obviously a big positive for Redcar, and Teesside in general, and will hopefully help to bring much needed new employment opportunities to the area.”