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Spring Statement ‘will barely register’ with business leaders as Brexit uncertainty continues to cast shadow

13 Mar 2019

westminsterBut positive action on late payments as Chancellor takes up IoD proposal

Responding to today’s Spring Statement, Edwin Morgan, Interim Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“In all honesty, today’s Spring Statement will barely register with most business leaders, as Brexit uncertainty continues to cast a shadow over their organisations.

“Warm words and proposed consultations are not enough for businesses at a time when confidence is rock bottom and investment plans are eroding away, and many will find it difficult to tread water until more decisive action at the Autumn Budget.

“While a ‘no deal’ would wreak certain havoc for many firms, we must also avoid being lulled into thinking an exit deal alone is a substitute for providing a real economic impetus that lowers costs, spurs productivity growth, and supports businesses as they adjust to Brexit, whatever its form. Indeed, the fact that the OBR lowered its forecast for GDP growth this year – based on a smooth exit from the EU – highlights just how much the economy is set to fall below its potential, even in a relatively benign scenario.  

“On the upside public finances are in rude health, but the Chancellor missed a vital opportunity to outline more clearly how this might be used to build a positive long-term economic vision for businesses to get behind. Today has turned out to be even more of a non-event than anticipated, and it is yet further evidence of how the Brexit process is sapping the momentum from our domestic economic policy agenda.”

On the announcement for late payments:

“We are delighted the Government has taken forward the IoD’s specific proposal to tackle late payments. This is a thorn in the side for many small firms, and the reform will ensure the issue gains the board-level attention it deserves at big companies, without compromising good corporate governance.”

On exempting PhD roles from visa caps:

“Businesses will welcome the announcement to exempt doctoral-level roles from visa caps. It represents a small step forward in unleashing R&D activity at a time when wide skills gaps are emerging across the country.”

On Brexit preparation:

“We have repeatedly called for Brexit planning vouchers for small businesses to access specialist advice needed to help deal with the many complex queries which government guidance cannot address. Whatever happens next, the upheaval for many companies will be significant and the need for support will extend well beyond March 29th to help companies tie off the risks and capitalise on emerging opportunities. We urge the government to heed the needs of UK enterprise at this pivotal moment.”

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