Autumn Statement reaction

The Autumn Statement will protect Britain against a ‘debt storm’, according to Chancellor George Osborne. But what do businesses and other bodies think? Here is our round-up of business reaction to the Autumn Statement 2011.

Downgraded growth forecasts are no surprise following a raft of negative economic data, and while many of the announcements had already been made, is the Autumn Statement a step in the right direction?

The CBI has hailed the announcements as, ‘a Plan A plus in all but the name’, claiming that the statement works with the realities of today, provides an imaginative framework for UK businesses and aims to secure growth and jobs.

Commenting, John Cridland, CBI director-general said: “The downgraded forecasts and outlook were no surprise, but the Eurozone crisis is still hanging over us. The Government’s dogged commitment to budget deficit reduction remains the only way to maintain the UK’s triple A credit rating and low interest rates on international money markets.

“We particularly welcome the new emphasis on capital spending, and the measures to leverage private sector investment on infrastructure for roads and energy.”

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), has hailed the Autumn Statement as ‘a step in the right direction for small businesses. John Walker, national chairman of the FSB said: “Taken as a package, the announcements in the Autumn Statement address many of the concerns raised by small businesses and are therefore to be welcomed. The key now is for the Government to be consistent, and set to the task of translating these policy intentions into tangible actions on the ground.

“Small businesses are struggling to access finance and so the enterprise investment scheme will open up new sources of finance for new and growing businesses. We hope that the banks will pass on the lower interest rates to small businesses and that more finance will be available.”

But has enough funding been allocated to the right areas? EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler comments: “With global growth plummeting and uncertainty mounting, the task of generating more balanced growth based on investment and trade was always going to be difficult.

“The statement was a targeted attack on barriers to growth with some helpful measures. But these are not normal times. With confidence so low, there are question marks over whether enough funding has been prioritised in the right areas to secure the substantial rise in business investment government is forecasting for next year.

“In the coming weeks and months the government must address two key priorities: the urgent need to increase competition in the banking sector and boost business investment by introducing a temporary rise in capital allowances.”