The Cornish business community has been giving its reaction to yesterday’s Budget statement.
Ann Vandermeulen, the development manager of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for Cornwall broadly welcomed the measures announced.
“As with every Budget, the devil is always in the detail,” she said, “but I think it’s fair to say there are a number of very encouraging items which will help the local small business community here in Cornwall.
“We are delighted that the Chancellor has listened to the FSB and others and put a real focus on supporting our high street independent sector and we very much welcome the decision to cut business rates by a third for the vast majority of our SME retailers. This will mean genuine discounts for the next two years for many of our high street stores which can only help in their determined battle to ensure we have the vibrant town centres our communities need.
“Elsewhere we also welcome the decision not to increase small business cost such as the freezing of the current VAT threshold for two years and the protection of the Employment Allowance. Both of these potential cost-saving measures will mean that small firms will have more support to help with the ever-rising costs of doing business.
”With some other encouraging news as well such as increased support for small builders, the freezing of the fuel duty which affects so many of our rural SMEs and the commitment to more investment in our local infrastructure, apprenticeship support and technology this would seem, overall, to be a Budget which can be seen as genuinely pro-small business.
“We now look forward to seeing in more detail the full extent of these measures.”
Glenn Caplin, chief executive of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “There are some welcome interventions for small businesses including one third off business rates for small High Street retailers, a halving of the Apprenticeship Levy for smaller firms and a continued freeze on fuel duty.
“Increasing the Annual Investment Allowance for two years to £1 million is designed to encourage investment during Brexit, and we welcome Cornwall’s inclusion in the first wave of full fibre internet trials in rural areas, which builds on our excellent digital connectivity.
“The £10 million for a fishing innovation fund is welcomed, but there will be disappointment that plans for major improvements to the sea wall at Dawlish won’t be published until next summer.”
“Philip Hammond produced what was in effect an interim budget,” said John Endacott, head of tax at PKF Francis Clark.
“Not quite crisis measures but all the new spending announcements were sticking ‘plasterish’ with a short term cut in taxes and more capital allowances. Interestingly, there was nothing on the more complex tax topics such as pensions, inheritance tax changes or tax efficient investments.”