Commenting on the Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“While today’s Autumn Statement brings some welcome measures to incentivise investment and bring people back into work, it is under the shadow of the OBR significantly cutting its long-term economic growth forecasts for the UK.
“Businesses have been languishing with multiple crises and the lack of economic direction and incentives to date has held investment back. The Chancellor today has nudged the dial in the right direction, but business needs more.”
“Our latest research indicates that the number of firms pausing investment decisions in Scotland has reached their highest levels since 2016. It was welcome that the Chancellor chose to follow our call to make the extension of full expensing permanent to give business much needed long-term certainty. This will be key to unlocking investment across the economy.”
On Business Support:
“The UK Government has extended its 75% business rates discount for retail, hospitality, leisure firms in England & Wales. This was a measure not replicated by the Scottish Government in this past financial year to the great disappointment of these sectors. We urge the Scottish Government to now listen to the urgent calls of industry for this measure to be replicated in the upcoming Scottish Budget so that Scottish industry is not left behind.”
On Labour Market:
“The Chancellor has outlined extensive measures to help get the domestic labour market back into work, which is welcome, but these are long-term measures that will take time to bear fruit.
“Businesses need staff now and we urge the UK Government to consider how it can support firms in this area immediately. Businesses need an immigration system that is agile and flexible to the needs of the economy, when they cannot recruit locally. Addressing this will unlock growth in the economy.”
On Whisky Duty & Tax-Free Shopping:
“The Scottish drinks industry will very welcome the freezing of alcohol duty, that helps firms in the industry expand and invest and contribute even more to the economy.
“However, we are disappointed that the Chancellor did not take steps to address the removal of tax-free shopping which has had a negative impact on business revenue, and for some, forced them to downsize operations.
“We urge the Chancellor to work with industry to introduce a new, internationally competitive tax-free shopping incentive for all overseas visitors as soon as feasibly possible, levelling the playing field for industry.”