Autumn Statement 2014: Did Brits get the ‘gifts’ they wished for?

Thomas Villeneuve, CEO and founder of Weroom, said:

“Although the government has discussed the reform to stamp duty – more specifically the increased taxes on two per cent of the most expensive homes – there are still a worrying lack of supportive measures for the growing number of flatsharers in the UK. This reform will only serve a small percentage of the UK housing market, and doesn’t take into account the increasing number of potential first time buyers who are still unable to get onto the property ladder.

“The government could do more to help fuel growth in a sector that is quickly the most prominent housing option for young Britons, particularly as house prices increase. In our recent research, 50 per cent of renters claimed they would like to see an introduction of a dedicated renting minister. This alone indicates how much demand there now is for flatsharing in the UK, especially in cities like London. It seems again that the government has missed a trick and not addressed the issues that are affecting modern British lifestyles so it’s very disappointing that this has not been raised.”

John Rowley, director of SMT Developments, said:

“As a technology-led manufacturing business we welcome the increase in R&D Tax Credits to 230 per cent, which will undoubtedly help cash flow and release money that can be directed into developing new processes and products. We have already benefited from this in the past and will certainly tap into the enhanced opportunity going forward.

“I was really pleased to hear about the £45m support package for export. While we need to hear the full details, any additional specialist support that increases our ability to trade overseas is something most manufacturers will like the sound of. But while looking after first time exporters is important, there should be a similar focus on companies already trading internationally.”

Jamie Standing, managing director of Gas Solutions, said: 

“Traditionally, when times are tough, training is one of the first areas to take a cut; but that is actually a short-sighted move. I believe more employers from across various sectors and industries are starting to recognise that nurturing your own talent through apprenticeship schemes actually unearths much-needed skills and agility to meet the demands of their customers. 

“With that said, the chancellor must tackle the glaringly obvious skills gap and the concerning unemployment levels amongst our youth. Apprenticeships are the solution to both problems. Placing kids straight into structured apprenticeship schemes with the prospect for a long-term career will send a shockwave through youth unemployment figures. Small businesses and start-ups should also be exempt from NI contributions for apprentices for a set period of time. The reason companies don’t take on apprentices at the moment is because it costs too much money. It costs £45,000 to take on an apprentice for three years. But businesses want to help youngsters. They want skilled workers coming through and they want to get youngsters off the streets.”

Matthew Finnie, CTO at Interoute, said:

“The government has simply got to get better at supporting British business innovation, particularly in those businesses suffering in the face of higher business rates. The Autumn Statement will do little to reassure businesses that the Government really understands what building a private business needs.

Compared with the US we are still way behind in practical measures that allow people starting companies to preserve cash when they need it; which is when they are developing their product, investing in people and promoting their idea. Business rate relief is a small start but needs to be widened to include income tax even before you take the leap to start your business. Cash preservation is king for starting a business.”

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