Responding to the Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor, Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“When appointed, the Chancellor made clear to the business community the scale of fiscal constraints that would influence his decision making. The economic turbulence since the mini-budget needed to be stabilised and the Chancellor has set his direction of travel. But as we brace for recession, business confidence will not shift overnight.
“The biggest worry facing businesses right now is rising energy prices which have eroded profitability for many sectors. Whilst we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to continue support until April, we need urgent clarity and detail on support beyond that period. We encourage the Chancellor to widen the net of support available to businesses.
“Increasing the windfall tax on energy producers and extending the timeline of application to 2028, will add further tax burdens on the sector. A 75% tax rate will force many companies elsewhere, to the detriment of jobs and efforts to support the just transition. This could put into question the UK’s position as a destination of choice for long-term strategic investment decisions. We urge the Chancellor to ensure confidence and investment in the energy sector is not undermined in the long-run for short-term benefit.
“Firms will welcome steps to bring more people back into the domestic workforce, particularly the review of issues holding back workforce participation. But not nearly enough has been announced to tackle labour shortages which is one of the single biggest challenges facing businesses. Until such times as domestic workforce schemes start to pay dividends, we urge the UK Government to align immigration policy with economic need and open more accessible routes for businesses to fill skills shortages and labour market gaps.”