Business Leaders Across The UK Feel Chancellor Has Produced a Mixed Bag
FSB NI Response to Summer Statement.
Responding to the Summer Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, FSB NI Head of External Affairs, Roger Pollen has welcomed many of the measures brought forward.
“However has also said that it is vital that Northern Ireland actually sees the benefit of the investment in skills.
“Many of the measures brought forward by the Chancellor today are very welcome and correspond with the ‘jobs first’ approach which FSB has been advocating in the run up to today’s statement.
“The six months VAT cut on food, accommodation and attractions from 20 percent to five percent will give a much-needed boost to those sectors that have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis, while the ‘Eat-out to Help out’ discount vouchers will help drive footfall to hospitality businesses.
“The £1,000 Job Retention Bonus for employers will also encourage businesses to bring back furloughed workers and could help avoid redundancies.
“However, many of the other measures announced today apply to either England or Great Britain only, and it is up to the Northern Ireland Executive to decide how best to utilise the funding which emanates from Barnett Consequentials to achieve the same sort of economic benefits here.
“Just as the Chancellor has invested significantly via the ‘Kickstart Scheme’, the Executive should similarly invest in skills and apprenticeships. With SMEs in Northern Ireland employing more people than all larger businesses and the entire public sector combined, small businesses will be well placed to benefit from the next generation of skilled workers, as part of a talent-led recovery.
“The onus is now on Stormont Ministers to step up to the mark to design schemes which encourages skills and training, and are able to be accessed by all businesses – large and small alike.”
NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry responds to the Chancellor’s Summer Statement.
Commenting on the Chancellor’s Summer Statement, Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), said: “Businesses will welcome many of the Chancellor’s announcements, although it is likely that the scale of the stimulus needed to help the economy recover will need to be greater still over the coming months.
“We now look to the NI Executive for clarity on how it plans to use the Barnett consequential revenues in Northern Ireland.
“We look forward to seeing the detail of the job retention bonus to help safeguard jobs for some furloughed staff, but the best way to protect jobs is to reduce the overall cost of employment. Ministers must therefore consider a cut in employer national insurance contributions in the coming months.
“The VAT cut will help firms in the hospitality and tourism sectors working hard to restart after many months of lost revenue.
“Over the coming weeks the Chancellor will also need to address a number of other key concerns – most importantly the impending end of key business loan schemes. Northern Ireland’s corporate indebtedness has risen as a result and it is critical that Government, banks and regulators work together with business communities to find solutions that help viable businesses recover and invest.
“NI Chamber has already suggested a Westminster-funded ‘Business Revival Fund’ that firms can use in any way they need to increase productivity to deal with the fall out of the COVID-19 crisis – may that be to help them change their products/services, invest in new markets or introduce more sustainable practices for example.”
Institute of Directors says Chancellor ‘missed a trick.’
Responding to the Chancellor’s statement, Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “The Chancellor pulled a few rabbits out of his hat today, but many directors will feel like he ‘missed a trick’.
“We fully understand the Treasury’s desire to focus on the young, and particularly badly-affected sectors, but coronavirus has crippled many parts of the economy.
“The JRS bonus offers something of an off-ramp from the furlough scheme, and firms will certainly be doing all they can to keep people on board.
“However, with cash so tight now, January may feel like a long way off for some businesses. Meanwhile, the Kickstart Scheme is a welcome idea, and we hope the system will be easy for employers to use.
“The boosts for apprenticeships and other training are also steps in the right direction.
“Support for hospitality will clearly go down well with the sector.
“But we were looking for broader-based measures to help companies ride out the crisis – which is by no means over – particularly for those who have so far fallen through the gaps of support schemes.
“A glaring omission throughout this pandemic has been the exclusion of small company directors, many of whom have not been able to access income support.
“Widening grant schemes could help those who have been left struggling without assistance, and help more firms to re-open.
“While boosting green investment marks a welcome step towards our long term goals for the economy, it can only be the start, and we will need much more encouragement to help businesses invest in green and digital technologies.
“And at the same time, with our data showing exports have taken a knock due to the pandemic, it is essential that sufficient measures are taken soon to aid international traders so we can avoid a perfect storm come the end of the year.
“The Chancellor’s greatest strength has been his willingness to adapt as the situation moves.
“While there were certainly things for businesses to welcome today, there is still a long hard road back to full economic health.”
Murphy Comments On Minister’s Statement.
Finance Minister responds to Chancellor’s Summer Economic Update
Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has welcomed the additional £155m of funding towards the COVID-19 response but has warned it does not go far enough.
Speaking following the Chancellor’s Summer Economic Update Minister Murphy said: “The announcement of an additional £39m for economic recovery as well as the further £116m confirmed by Treasury today for COVID-19 is a welcome boost towards the Executive’s COVID-19 response.
“It is important that we act quickly and I will be discussing the prioritisation of this funding with my Executive colleagues as a matter of urgency.
“The cut in the VAT rate and the Job Retention Bonus Scheme are also welcome measures, as is the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme.
“However, the measures are not ambitious enough to spur economic recovery. COVID-19 will continue to have a dramatic impact on our economy for some time to come. What is needed is a comprehensive stimulus package. This unfortunately does not go far enough.”