What does the Autumn 2021 budget mean for businesses?
Ed Rimmer, Chief Executive Officer at Time Finance, shares his thoughts: “This needed to be a Budget for growth, not for paying back. We have seen some real substance from the Government that growth is their number one priority. As the Chancellor said, we have not drawn a line under Covid. But we are entering a new age of optimism.
“The series of business rates relief will be universally good news for the retail, hospitality and leisure industries but I think the biggest gift the Chancellor has given on this tax system is the business rates improvement relief. This is an exceptional decision by the Government, giving businesses a leg up to growth. These measures to incentivise growth put real substance to the Government’s ambition to deliver a stronger economy. What’s more, the investment relief to encourage investment in green technology will help businesses make key investments in sustainability and this is an important catalyst for our net zero targets.
“The Chancellor’s new Charter for Budget Responsibility will possibly be the most promising announcement in today’s Budget, namely due to its emphasis on borrowing and its sole purpose for growth investment. This separation is vital to our economic growth. Delivering a stronger economy in the wake of the pandemic is a bold ambition, but given some of the ORB's reporting there are some very clear indicators that we are recovering much quicker than anticipated.
“The Government’s ambitious growth strategy paints a very promising picture of economy growth and I’m very pleased to see some real measures being put in place to support the needs of the business community and safeguard their role in economic investment. Increasing skills spending by 42% is very welcome news for businesses, particularly those struggling with a lack of available talent. But this alone won’t solve the skills shortage. We need to see more detail on the proposed Scale Up Visa, which will bring in international skills. To be as effective as our businesses require, this visa needs to not just support research and development but also support the struggling industries that are the back-bone of our economy, not least logistics and construction.
“Despite the rumours, there has been no clarity on the 6-month extension to the Recovery Loan Scheme, which would have been welcome news to businesses who are yet to return to their pre-Covid operations. We are yet to see if this rumour will be substantiated, but either way, what we need to understand about the Recovery Loan Scheme is its wider implications on alternative funding solutions. RLS does what it needs to; it’s a cheap source of funding to aid recovery. That said, there was a huge emphasis on economic growth in today’s budget and there are a multitude of alternatives to RLS that can be much more effective in facilitating business growth.”
“We are yet to see some substance from the Government on how Levelling Up will benefit local businesses. Economic growth and skills investment are two major points in the Levelling Up agenda, however despite investments in infrastructure, the business community needs to know the practical implications Levelling Up will have on them.”