Chancellor Osborne gets thumbs up from industry

Chancellor George Osborne has received a broadly welcoming reaction from industry following his Autumn Statement. That's bad news for Labour and good news for Conservatives ahead of the 2015 election

by the commentator on 4 December 2014 11:15

Autumn_statement

The response to the Autumn Statement has so far been largely positive, with the business community welcoming the majority of announcements delivered by George Osborne. The Chancellor, famous for delivering highly political budgets, has received widespread praise for policies to reduce stamp duty and remove the death taxes associated with ISAs.

Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors said:

“This was a disciplined, long-term and forward looking statement with welcome reforms for businesses, employers, savers and home-buyers. The Chancellor was right to resist the temptation of politicised giveaways, and focus instead on long-term investment in infrastructure, science and efforts to boost the UK’s productivity. Deficit reduction remains of primary importance and this statement did not shy away from that reality.”

The Confederation of British Industry also welcomed the announcement, with its director-general John Cridland, saying:

“These major changes on stamp duty and business rates will be a shot in the arm for families and growing firms as they look towards 2015. The targeted focus on enterprise is right, but business innovators would have liked to see more on research and development (R&D) to boost UK investment.”

There was some criticism about the lack of detail provided in the announcement, something the Conservatives claimed would be resolved through the full publication of the relevant documentation. Areas for concern included energy policy and skills.

The announcement of a £2billion cash investment in the NHS was met with a positive reaction, but experts urged the government to use some of the new funding to accelerate the health service digitisation scheme.

Brian Smithers, strategic development director for Rexel, said:

"We didn’t see much said on energy, but the government has acknowledged the importance of providing a secure energy supply in its commitment to nuclear, shale gas and support for energy companies. It is a shame there has not been similar enthusiasm for renewables - given their importance we would have liked to see at least an acknowledgement of their role in the UK’s future."

The technology industry was also broadly supportive of the extra funding for research and development as well as the announcement of £113m for a big data research centre in Hartree, Daresbury. But experts warned that upfront financial investment in front-line services, must be met with a long-term approach to technology and digitisation initiatives.

Alasdair McCormick, director at IT services company Ricoh, called for the government to match its investment in front-line services at the NHS with technology investment.

He said: “The government must ensure that newly digitised information can be readily accessed by professionals at any time, from any location."

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