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Business leaders welcome Autumn statement
BUSINESSES in the south have roundly welcomed the news delivered by George Osborne in his Autumn statement, which has been described as “a step in the right direction.”
But it was not the wholesale reform of the business rates system that the city’s Chamber of Commerce had been calling for.
In delivering his ‘mini-budget’ on how the economy is faring, the chancellor declared that Britain's "economic plan is working".
Mr Osborne announced a new cap from next year on welfare spending but said that state pensions would be excluded.
There will also be a tax break for married couples along with the cap on business rates, but he was keen to stress the government would stick to its long-term plan to rebuild the public finances.
He also promised a further £3 billion in savings in the public sector but said the NHS would be excluded.
Tim Forer, employment barrister at Southampton law firm Blake Lapthorn, said: “There were no big surprises in this statement - the government is sticking to its plan which is what was expected.
“There's some positive news that will help businesses - particularly the tax relief for those who want to re-occupy empty premises in high streets and the cap on business rates and fuel duty.
Kerry McKeown, director at Grant Thornton's Hampshire office, said: “The Chancellor’s moves to ensure a competitive tax environment for business are a step in the right direction, particularly for mid-sized businesses (MSBs).
"Grant Thornton research in November showed that MSBs consider employment costs a barrier to growth and job creation, with 45 per cent of MSBs identifying a reduction in National Insurance (NI) contributions as the number one priority for the Autumn Statement. They will welcome his move to remove NI contributions on 1.5 million jobs for the under-21s as a spur to growth."
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: '''The Chancellor has in large part heeded business's call for a steady Autumn Statement, rather than a grab bag of electoral giveaways.
''While Britain's economy is improving, and our businesses report strong confidence, the UK is still some way from achieving the truly great economy we need.''
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