The first Autumn Budget in 20 years received a mostly favourable welcome from the process sectors but with a warning to Chancellor Philip Hammond that fast delivery on industrial objectives will be essential.
The financial measures are intended to counteract the effects of EU withdrawal and ensure the future health of the UK economy. Yet with the Brexit countdown now below the two year marks, industry is demanding quick results.
Key details of the Chancellor’s statement with industry responses appear below. Full details of the 2017 Budget can be found here.
Brexit – £3bn for transition
Terry Scuoler, chief executive, EEF: “The Chancellor’s explicit pledge to deliver an implementation plan ahead of Brexit will reassure companies of the Government’s intent, giving business certainty amid gathering Brexit jitters.”
Manufacturing and Productivity
Ian Wright, director general, Food and Drink Federation: “If we are to unlock the productivity potential within UK food and drink manufacturing then boosting skills, innovation and exports will be critical. We hope to see an acknowledgement of the progress of our work to support these priorities in next week’s Industrial Strategy White Paper.”
Terry Scuoler, EEF: “We are delighted to see the Government’s National Productivity Fund has been extended for a further year to £31 billion to upgrade Britain’s economic infrastructure. The extension of the R&D tax credit increasing to 12% will boost business investment in future productivity and technological advances.”
If we are to unlock the productivity potential within UK food and drink manufacturing then boosting skills, innovation and exports will be critical
Ian Wright, director general, FDF
Sustainability – commitment to investigate tax on single-use plastics
David Palmer-Jones, CEO, Suez: “This is a vital step towards achieving a more resource-efficient society and encouraging producers to take more responsibility.
“Policy and taxation changes are welcome if they can help reduce the use of virgin materials in favour of more sustainable, recyclable products. An extended producer responsibility regime should address all forms of resource usage, materials and packaging production.”
Education – £84 million for 8,000 new computer teachers, £20 million for new T-Levels, flexbility for Apprenticeship Levy spending
Peter Finegold, head of Education and Skills, Research and Policy, IMechE: “The Institution again urges that future focus should be towards addressing known skill shortage professions, such as engineering, with additional incentives for colleges and students to pursue careers in these professions.”
Tim Thomas, director of Employment and Skills Policy, EEF: “Government must set out the key objectives for the fund as well as avoiding duplication, targeting it where there is a gap in training provision and making the process transparent and easy for businesses. [It] will need to act quickly and deliver the indicated flexibility to apprenticeship levy payers, enabling them to spend their levy money which is all too often currently out of reach.”
R&D – extra £2.3 billion, R&D tax credit increased 1%
Philippa Oldham, head of Transport and Manufacturing, IMechE: “[We] welcome the increased investment in research and development. However, this is still below that of our major competitors, such as Germany and USA, that stands at 2.8% and 2.7% respectively.”
Steve Lindsey, CEO and founder, Lontra: “The UK is perfectly placed to lead the world in precision manufacturing...While Treasury interventions such as Patent Box has provided limited support, we are glad the Chancellor recognises there is far more the Government can do to help bring inventions to market and establish our lead in the fourth industrial revolution.”
Stephen Dyson, head of Industry 4.0, Proto Labs: “Our industrial, engineering and manufacturing industries will be bolstered by this investment. This additional financing will also provide welcome support for businesses trying to encourage more young people to pursue careers within manufacturing.”
Artificial Intelligence – £75m investment, new AI Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
Fergus Caheny, head of technology group, Smith & Williamson accountants: “When you consider the hundreds of millions that Google annually invests in its Deepmind AI program, the Government cannot sensibly think £75 million will achieve this aim.”