BCC's Full Response to the 2020 Budget: Much to welcome for UK business communities

Published 12th Mar 2020 by Emma Sinfield

Budget 2020: Much to welcome for business communities across the UK

Giving his initial reaction to the Chancellor’s March Budget, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:

“There’s much to welcome in this Budget for business communities across the UK.

“The Chancellor has listened to our calls for support to help firms overcome cash flow challenges posed by Coronavirus.

“Increases to infrastructure spending and sharper investment incentives will help businesses grow over the longer-term.

“The Budget has addressed the immediate challenges facing the economy, but the Chancellor will have to do more to support businesses as they navigate changes to trading arrangements and the end of the Brexit transition period.”

On the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics, said:

“Accessing finance remains crucial to the lifeblood of a business and so we are pleased that the Chancellor has listened our call to maintain the flow of credit. The acid test for the scheme will be whether it is able to get credit flowing to firms who most need it, rather than the usual suspects.”

On the cut to Entrepreneur’s Relief, Suren Thiru, said:

“BCC called for the Chancellor to reform rather than abolish Entrepreneur’s Relief and are pleased that he has listened. It is vital to the UK’s economic prosperity that promising young firms and entrepreneurs continue to have access to the sort of long-term investment that may not otherwise happen.”

On the announcement of a review of business rates, Suren Thiru, said:

“While short-term business rates relief for many thousands of businesses is to be welcomed, larger firms will have to wait until the autumn for a further review of Britain's broken business rates system. This review must lead to real action to reduce high upfront costs across the board – something we have long campaigned for. Abandoning the goal of fiscal neutrality for the reforms would be an important starting point."

On incentives for investment, Suren Thiru, said:

“With business investment persistently anaemic, we are pleased to see the Chancellor deliver sharper incentives for businesses to invest. The increase in the R&D expenditure credit and Structures and Buildings allowance will give companies across the UK a helping hand to push ahead with investments in plant & machinery and property.”

On the reform of the planning system Jane Gratton, Head of Infrastructure Policy, said:

“While the government is focused on building new homes, we know that one in five firms struggle to find the land and premises they need to innovate and grow.

“Businesses will be keen to see the details of the reforms to the planning system announced today. The changes must ensure the right balance of land for jobs and homes.”

On infrastructure investment,Jane Gratton, said:

"BCC has long campaigned to eliminate mobile phone “not spots” and for improvements to the quality and capacity of Britain’s road and rail network. We therefore welcome the significant increase in infrastructure funding that will help boost connectivity and productivity across the country.

“Removing barriers to infrastructure investment across all parts of the UK is vital. A review of the Green Book, which can be a roadblock to important local and regional infrastructure programmes, is welcome. Business engagement in the review is vital.

On measures to meet net-zero targets,Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director, said:

“Much of the innovation needed to protect the environment and change the way we live will come from business. This Budget will help them access the investment they need to innovate and rise to the challenge, but the government shouldn’t underestimate the substantial change some businesses will need to make in order to meet the net-zero ambition.

“We look forward to working with government to develop the measures needed to support firms with this transition.”

Responding to the Budget 2020, Mid Yorkshire Chamber Managing Director Martin Hathaway said:

“In a Budget that was dominated by the Government’s response to coronavirus, we welcome the support announced for small businesses, although as usual, the devil may well be in the detail.

“The refunding of statutory sick pay paid out to employees for up to 14 days for businesses with fewer than 250 staff will be well received, as will the new coronavirus business interruption loan scheme which will offer loans of up to £1.2m - as long as it is accessible by viable businesses most in need.

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s promises of providing a £3,000 cash grant to the 700,000 businesses who are currently eligible for small business rates relief will be a real boost. The Mid Yorkshire Chamber has been calling for a full review of the rates system for a number of years, so it is good to hear that a review is now to be undertaken. The areas that have been affected by the recent flooding will be keen to see the £120 million to repair flood defences spent as soon as possible.

“The news that a devolution deal in West Yorkshire has at long last been agreed today with a directly-elected Mayor accountable for the West Yorkshire region is a breakthrough. It will see the region get an elected mayor in May 2021 and access to a £4.2bn pot of “London-style funding settlements”. The deal gives us real power to work with the Combined Authority and LEP and make the spending choices to help West Yorkshire thrive.”


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