The spring statement shows that the Chancellor's vision for the UK economy is rightly based on enterprise and innovation, with some clear wins on the CBI's business rates agenda.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said:
“The Chancellor is rightly backing British business to secure the UK’s future prosperity in a new economy.
“It’s great to see an upgrade in the state of our public finances and rightly sensible to set more aside for a rainy day with Brexit uncertainty still weighing on the economy.
“The global economy is going from strength-to-strength, but at the same time economic growth here at home remains lukewarm. This underlines just how vital it is to secure a Brexit that delivers for jobs and an industrial strategy that helps transform UK productivity in all corners of the country.
“Businesses and workers must move now to adapt their skill-sets to the modern economy. Upskilling existing workers and preparing young people properly for the world of work is fundamental to the technology revolution.
“The lack of flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy is a core concern to many firms, so it was disappointing to miss this opportunity to tackle this issue head on.
“The CBI looks forward to working with the TUC and government on the National Retraining Partnership, where we aim to help develop the workforce of the future and meet the needs of local labour markets. Add in a reformed apprenticeship levy with a strong careers strategy, and the UK can finally have a skills system to be proud of.
“The UK cannot move on taxation in the digital age in isolation, so the Chancellor is spot on to work in lock-step with the international community to develop an approach that crosses borders and sectors.
“The CBI has long-called for just one Budget in a year, creating more room for Government and business to get to work. But the Spring Statement is still important, and this one has proved more than welcome in setting the tone and vision for the country’s economic future.”
On bringing forward the review of Business Rates, she said:
The impact of the out-dated Business Rates system continues to be an Achilles’ heel for many businesses, so it’s absolutely right to fast forward revaluations.”
On the call for evidence to share best practice on productivity, Rain said:
“Many British businesses are at the cutting edge of innovation, but others need a helping hand to take on the tried and tested technologies that drive growth. The Chancellor is right to recognise the importance of this to our future productivity performance.
“Great businesses act like magpies, collecting new ideas to boost productivity. But like ostriches, some can bury their heads in the sand and ignore the opportunities in front of them. Government and businesses will need to work together across sectors and supply chains to spread best practice and make sure magpies win the day.”
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CBI Principal Economist Megan Baddeley and Senior Economic Policy Adviser Fiona Geskes discuss the Spring Statement, giving an update on the state of the public finances, as well as the business reaction to the Chancellor’s speech.