It’s difficult to get excited about the positives in yesterday’s Budget announcements when so much is missing – especially where Cornwall and Isles of Scilly concerned.
I’ve downloaded the entire budget document and searched for both ‘Cornwall’ and ‘South West’, and there’s not one mention of either.
It’s as if we don’t exist; none of the 12 investment zones designed to level up and drive business investment, are west of Birmingham. It feels like the term ‘levelling up’ actually just means Teesside and the Northeast.
Whilst the Chancellor has committed to invest £20 billion in low-carbon energy projects, I do fear the strong emphasis on nuclear in the budget means the focus will be drawn away from Floating Offshore Wind, and investment in future tidal energy.
Many businesses were pinning their hopes on an announcement regarding support with energy costs; so many will struggle to pay their bills past April, and this will hinder their ability to invest and get the economy back on track. Alas, there was no announcement, and this black cloud will continue to impact business confidence and growth potential.
Similarly, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has repeatedly called for a reform to business rates, and there were no announcements on this today.
Let’s lift the mood a bit and look at the positives…
I’m pleased the Chancellor is looking at ways to strengthen the workforce, making it easier for working parents to work, and getting older professionals into the labour market, including abolishing the pension cap. Increasing the size of the workforce will help bring interest rates down.
On the whole, I don’t feel this Budget packs the punch it needed to; there’s no clarity around a UK-wide industrial strategy. It’s piecemeal with headline-grabbing soundbites – there’s no real meat on the bones to create a robust economic growth strategy for the UK, and most certainly not for Cornwall.”