Too much froth, too little detail – Hampshire Chamber responds to Autumn Statement

Stewart Dunn, Chief Executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday 23rd November, 2016, Stewart Dunn, Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive, said:

“There was a lot of froth at the top but little detail further down to help businesses in our region.

“We need to understand how Hampshire will share in the benefits of the Chancellor’s national infrastructure initiatives on housing, transport, productivity and digital networks.

“While we of course welcome support on these essential activities, the main focus yet again was on investment in the North. There were no specific announcements about the individual local enterprise partnerships in our region and nothing on greater devolution of power.

“Many of our members will have been disappointed that the Chancellor did not address more of the up-front taxes facing businesses. His references to corporation tax, fuel duty and business rates were not new announcements. In fact, under revaluation, some business rates in towns and cities in Hampshire will be going up despite his rhetoric.

“Some in the countryside will be cheered by his measures on rural rate relief, working out at an average £2,900 saving for smaller businesses.

“We expect the Chancellor’s support for research and development in scientific and technological innovation will benefit those Hampshire employers working in hi-tech and advanced engineering as well as our university sector.

“We are also pleased that he is supporting cultural investment in our area through a £1.6 million funding announcement for the Studio 144 arts complex in Southampton city centre.

“Overall however, this was a fairly underwhelming Autumn Statement constrained by what the Chancellor recognises is a challenging set of fiscal forecasts leaving little room for giveaways.”