Chamber Network across the UK comments on today's Budget announcement


3rd March 2021


Colleagues from across Scottish Chambers of Commerce and British Chambers of Commerce have given their reactions to today's Budget announcements made by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

We'll be discussing what these mean to business across Scotland on our 2021 Budget Briefing with MHA Henderson Loggie on Thursday 4 March from 11am, register to attend the webinar over on the website 

Alternativley you'll be able to catch us live on Facebook from 11am - 12pm @dundeeandangus

Scottish Chambers of Commerce 

Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Our central call to the Chancellor was to extend the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, recognising just how essential it is to protect jobs and support businesses. The Chancellor has made the right decision to extend this lifeline support package as well as maintaining VAT reductions for the most-affected businesses.

"Let's not lose sight that the doors of many businesses remain closed. The tapering of support may need to be reviewed for some sectors such as tourism to reflect the length of time it will take for businesses to reach operating capacity.

"The widening of the self-employment support scheme for the army of self-employed people is hugely welcome and will provide vital relief through the coming months.

"Both the Scottish & UK Government must now collaborate more than ever before to make sure businesses and jobs remain protected until we are well on the road to economic recovery."

On those who have fallen through gaps in support, Liz Cameron said:

“Despite the widening of the self-employment support scheme, there are still too many businesses and individuals who have been unable to access any government support. They will require support too if they are to survive the difficult months ahead while the economy remains shuttered."

On grant support funding, Liz Cameron said:

“The budget has provided an extra £1.2billion in consequentials for Scotland. Ideally this will be allocated to ensuring a level playing field is achieved where possible, including the training support for people of all ages which will be essential to put in place the right skills for economic recovery.

“The challenge now is to ensure that the consequentials provided to the Scottish Government are focused and targeted to the business community to help us not only recover, but to have a chance to develop our business models, reskill and ready to grasp future opportunities."

On Corporation Tax, Liz Cameron said:

“The business community understands that the fiscal response to the pandemic has been extraordinary and someone needs to pay the piper, but we need to ensure that there are no changes in taxation that will harm the recovery. Therefore, we welcome the time-lag announced which will give businesses time to trade through this crisis before the tax increases are applied. We need the economy firing on all cylinders to ensure that damage inflicted by the pandemic does not become permanent."

On the new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme, Liz Cameron said:

"We are pleased to see the successor to the CBILS and BBL loan schemes announced today. The new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme will play a practical role in providing much needed working capital to businesses all of sizes, and will play a critical role in helping businesses trade out of the crisis."

British Chambers of Commerce

Giving his reaction, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, said: 

“There’s much to welcome in this Budget for business communities across the UK. The Chancellor has listened and acted on our calls for immediate support to help struggling businesses reach the finish line of this gruelling marathon and to begin their recovery. Extensions to furlough, business rates relief and VAT reductions give firms a fighting chance not only to restart, but also to rebuild.  

“We particularly welcome the massive ‘super deduction’ investment incentive that the Chancellor has put in place for the next two years. This responds directly to our call to encourage those businesses that can to invest and grow.  

“While no business will relish paying higher rates of Corporation Tax in future, the impact of the Chancellor’s tough decision is blunted by the big new incentives for investment, lower rates for the smallest firms, and the extension of Coronavirus support measures in the short term. 

“This Budget provides reassurance to businesses, provided that they are able to restart and rebuild according to the Government’s road map. If firms face unexpected bumps in the road, the Chancellor must be prepared to take action until the economy is firing on all cylinders again.”   

Commenting on the latest forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said: 

“The OBR’s central forecast provides a more upbeat outlook for the UK economy with the vaccine rollout expected to drive a faster recovery. Even with the mass vaccine rollout, the economic scarring already caused by the pandemic, including structural unemployment, rising private debt levels and weak investment, may mean that any recovery is slower than the OBR predicts.  

“While the OBR highlights significant fiscal challenges, the chancellor should tread carefully in managing the future path of fiscal consolidation to avoid suffocating the recovery.” 

Commenting on the Recovery Loan scheme, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC, said: 

“Accessing finance remains crucial to the lifeblood of a business and so the announcement of a new loan scheme to succeed CBILS and BBLS is welcome. The acid test for the new scheme will be whether it is able to support the recovery by getting credit flowing to the firms who most need it.  

“The scheme must be right from day one to ensure that businesses and banks can use it to help SMEs return to growth. Businesses will need an approach to operation of the new scheme that is clear, consistent and considerate to the impact of the pandemic on their financial position. 

Commenting on those who have fallen through gaps in government support, Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director at the BCC, said: 

“Despite the widening of the self-employment support scheme, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been unable to access any government support since the start of the pandemic. Many require help if they are to navigate a difficult few months ahead before the economy is able to reopen more fully.” 

British Chambers of Commerce

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) sits at the heart of a business network that spans the length and breadth of the UK, with links to markets across the world.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce is at the heart of Scotland’s largest and most influential business to business network.

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