Autumn Statement: George Osborne worked with what he’s got

It’s not difficult to imagine George Osborne standing in front of the UK economy’s balance sheet on a giant white board, like a football manager, trying to prepare for a big match with only an injury-hit squad at his disposal.

Despite the odds being stacked against him, I think the chancellor managed to get the right result when he delivered his Autumn Statement. It might not have been the convincing win that he’d have liked in an ideal world, but considering his resources, it was definitely a score draw.

To bring the metaphor closer to home, Osborne had to approach the Autumn Statement like a business turned down for bank lending – he could only work with what he’s got.

What he delivered was a statement that will encourage business and therefore help individuals.

Cutting corporation tax and introducing a ten-fold rise to plant and equipment tax relief demonstrates that Britain is a good place to do business. These measures will encourage businesses to expand and create jobs, which helps the wider economy and improves the lives of men and women across the country.

His actions show, to go after the corporations leeching off our economy, that he means business. By arming HMRC with a £77m battle fund to expose and punish these morally-corrupt organisations, the chancellor has not only understood public opinion, he has set in motion another way to raise around £2bn a year to help cut the deficit.

While Starbucks has crumbled under the weight of public pressure (and possibly falling sales), I am sure there are plenty of others that may avoid scrutiny in the media, but not the knock on the door from the tax man.

The Chancellor has been forced to rob Peter, to pay Paul, and the civil servants in Whitehall will have to work within the budgets their given – just like businesses have since Labour placed a stick of dynamite under the economy.

Historically, pumping money into infrastructure in times of austerity creates jobs and boosts the economy. Improving schools and roads will boost the construction sector and have a positive trickle-down effect into other areas of the economy.

Most of all, I welcome cancelling the 3p rise in fuel. It’s been a long time in coming that governments stop using fuel duty postponements as Budget sweeteners and instead set a longer term strategy.

Fuel is a contentious issue for many businesses. We already spend £1m a year on fuel for our fleet, and any rise in petrol prices hit our business hard as we have no alternative. You can’t expect a plumber to carry his tools on the Tube!

Now the dust is starting to settle from the announcement of the Autumn Statement, it’s time for business and government to get back to the job of rebuilding the economy.

Being able to create 2.1m jobs in the private sector in these austere times proves that businesses have the ability to succeed and grow, even in the toughest of economic environments.

To keep it going, nothing apart from old-fashioned hard work is required. George has done the best with what he’s got and we have to do just the same.

Charlie Mullins is founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers

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