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9th Dec, 2021

Coventry and Warwickshire needs to benefit from significant Budget announcement say business leaders

BUSINESS leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say they want the region to benefit from a major announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce hosted a range of businesses at an event to watch Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget at the Telegraph Hotel in Coventry.

They gave the budget a cautious welcome as the Chancellor announced he was using the statement to invest in future growth and also support firms still suffering from the effects of the pandemic.

That included a 50 per cent discount on business rates for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector; a freeze on fuel duty, £3.8billion investment in skills, and further support for research and development.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the region would look to benefit from a £1.4billionn Global Britain Investment Fund which has money set aside for vehicle electrification.

She said: “It was a very upbeat budget delivery considering the 18 months businesses and individuals have faced.

“The devil is always in the detail with the budget statement because there are always lots of big numbers mentioned but takes some time to understand exactly what it means for firms and the region.

“The Global Britain Investment Fund is something we believe could be positive for Coventry and Warwickshire and our hopes for bringing a Gigafactory to the region. This area has the potential to be at the forefront of vehicle electrification.

“There was a good acknowledgement of inflation but this was more with a focus on the role of the Bank of England, rather than any Government fiscal measures. There were predictions of four per cent inflation, but businesses in the room see this as potentially being higher.

“We welcome scale-up visas if they help businesses attract and bring-in critical skills and talent that cannot, otherwise, be home grown. Recruitment issues remain a major headache and drag on growth.

“Businesses hit hardest by Covid will welcome the 50 per cent discount on business rates and the business rates improvement relief will incentives businesses to make improvements to properties.

“We welcome strong and further investment in skills and it is important that we see strong alignment between employer needs and skills supply.

“There was also positive news around the fuel duty rise being cancelled which is a boost for business and the self-employed at a time when costs are rising.

“On that note, we support the principle of increasing the living wage and understand the need to increase the incomes of our lowest paid. However, business costs are rising across the board and will contribute further to rising inflation.

“On the whole, businesses will wait to see what details emerge as they look to recover from the most difficult period any of us have faced.”

Claire Lea, of Prime Accountants Group, said: “There were numerous references to investment relief on green measures and also investment in infrastructure and innovation, all of which Coventry and Warwickshire is known for, so we will be hoping our area can benefit when the follow-on detail emerges from Government.”

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