Reaction to the Autumn Budget

Giving their reaction to the Autumn Budget, the CEOs of South Yorkshire Chambers of Commerce said in a joint statement:

Though it lacked some important measures, South Yorkshire businesses will find much to welcome in this Budget. They needed to. Going into it they faced immediate challenges around labour shortages, rising costs and supply-chain disruptions. Over three quarters of companies in our region that tried to recruit struggled to hire last quarter.

So we applaud the extra discounts on business rates for retail, leisure and hospitality and the wider extension of reliefs on investment in commercial property. But there is still so much more to do on reform. More frequent rates revaluations are welcome but only if they go hand-in-hand with less bureaucracy. This is some way off – it’s not ‘job done’.

Fresh money for skills bootcamps, T-Levels and on-the-job traineeships, confirmed today, is also welcome. But ensuring that employers can access the skills they need, when they need them is about coordinating efforts across business, government, and education and training providers. Through our Local Skills Improvement Plan, South Yorkshire Chambers and our partners are leading efforts to make this happen.

The Budget confirmed South Yorkshire’s successful bid for investment in our bus, rail and active travel network worth £570m. We welcome this and applaud the efforts of the Mayoral Combined Authority who together with Chambers and others – including the region’s MPs – fought hard to make it happen. But there is much more to do. The government’s Integrated Rail Plan – critical to future transport investment in our region – is still unpublished and we have no clarity about the Eastern leg of HS2. The proposed scrapping of direct rail services between Manchester Airport and South Yorkshire threatens our access to international markets and investment at a crucial time in our economic recovery.

But beyond spending numbers and welcome investment into some of our communities, there was precious little on how more decisions that affect South Yorkshire can be made here in our region, not Whitehall. Bringing the big calls closer to the business communities they affect is necessary to any ‘levelling up’ of the country’s economy.

Dan Fell, CEO Doncaster Chamber

Andrew Denniff, CEO Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce

Louisa Harrison-Walker and Alexis Krachai, joint CEOs, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

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