The CBI reacted to the Budget delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:
“This is a breakthrough Budget for skills. There has never been a more important time for the UK to sit at the global top table of technical education for young people.
“Firms will be looking for ongoing partnership with the Government as they try to make the Apprenticeship Levy work.
“However, with inflation rising and the cumulative burden weighing on businesses’ shoulders, limited relief for firms hit hard by business rates falls short.
“Firms are wholly committed to the health and wellbeing of their people, and are pleased to see an increase in spending on social care.
“Businesses will be pleased to see the Chancellor’s continued watchful eye on getting the deficit down and avoiding surprises.”
On technical education, Carolyn said:
“Firms are delighted by the Chancellor’s announcement, as the number of teaching hours for technical subjects is fundamental to delivering world class training for our young people in every part of the UK.
“With the majority of people who will be working in 2030 already in the workforce now, the focus on adult skills provision will put this type of training on the right path to major and necessary improvement.”
On the National Productivity Investment Fund, Carolyn said:
“Clarity on how the National Productivity Investment Fund will be delivered is welcome and will help firms in every corner of the UK to invest with greater confidence for the long term.
“Businesses look forward to working with the Government to see these plans – such as on the implementation of the £690 million competition fund to improve local transport connections – come to fruition. Only then will they act as a catalyst for investment, jobs and growth.
On business rates, Carolyn said:
“The Chancellor’s recognition of the challenges posed by business rates through increased transitional relief for smaller businesses, is welcome.
“But there is no immediate prospect of more frequent valuations, or broader relief from rising business rates in a world of higher inflation, which businesses were looking for.
“Over the longer term, firms want to see a wider reform of business rates as part of the Chancellor’s efforts to create a more modern tax system.”
On National Insurance Contributions, Carolyn said:
“We understand the decision to introduce a simpler tax system by reducing the difference between employee and self-employed National Insurance Contributions, but it must continue to incentivise entrepreneurship.”
On innovation, Carolyn said:
“The commitments on 5G technology are the first step towards keeping the UK at the forefront of the digital revolution and delivering future-proofed connectivity to businesses across the UK. Taken with the allocation of funds for disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the budget contained useful measures to keep UK businesses ahead of the curve.”
On energy, Carolyn said:
“It is right that the Government is considering a revised future framework to ensure investment in a low-carbon, secure and affordable energy system.
“With limited visibility beyond the current Levy Control Framework, the Government should look to clarify the future system as soon as possible.”
On social care, Carolyn said:
“While care providers will warmly welcome the extra funding, tackling the growing issues facing the sector calls for the Government and industry to work in partnership to find long-term, sustainable solutions.
“Encouraging more targeted savings through new insurance products could form part of this thinking. We look forward to responding to the forthcoming Green Paper.”