The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has welcomed the business-boosting measures in this week's Budget, and urged the Scottish Government to respond by “going even further” in areas of devolved competence to incentivise Scottish growth, productivity and boost the housing market.
Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said that Mr Hammond had “unveiled some positive measures” to address the UK’s slowing growth and faltering productivity rates, but warned that the Treasury’s raising of the personal allowance and higher rate threshold increased the importance of maintaining a level playing field for tax across the UK.
Liz Cameron said; “The Chancellor’s moves to lower the tax burden for individuals and for businesses, via higher thresholds and an earlier move from RPI to CPI on business rates, increases the absolute necessity for Scotland to remain a competitive tax environment to attract investors and sustain businesses. The abolition of stamp duty on properties up to £300,000 for first time buyers also invites a response from Scottish ministers. The Chancellor’s commitment to tackle the housing challenge requires equivalent efforts to support the construction industry, ensuring the right skills are available and the industry is supported with investment, and it is welcome to see the Chancellor’s taking positive steps to achieve this.”
“When the finance secretary announces the Scottish Budget next month, the net result should not be to make Scotland the most highly-taxed part of the UK.”
The Chambers also warmly received the Treasury’s plans to allow transfers of tax history between buyers and sellers of oil and gas assets. This will make it easier to buy and sell fields and thus keep them producing for longer, and give buyers a tax refund for decommissioning costs.
In response to the plan, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce Russell Borthwick, said:
“This is something that a number of our members, our regional MPs and industry partners have been asking for and the Chancellor has responded. This measure is key to allowing the industry to maximise the future economic benefit it will deliver to the UK; getting the assets in the North Sea in the right hands will enable that to happen.”
Elsewhere the Chambers welcomed Mr Hammond’s plans to freeze duty on beer and spirits, a boost for Scotland’s largest food and drink export category Scotch Whisky, and applauded the decision not to lower the VAT threshold, a potential administrative burden and competitive disadvantage to struggling small businesses.
SCC also welcomed the allocation of a further £2.3 billion for investment in R&D and an increase the main R&D tax credit to 12%.