Budget moves to boost business welcomed by Shropshire firms
Shropshire businesses today broadly welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget, which started with measures to support businesses, the economy and the health sector as coronavirus takes hold in the UK.
In a Budget dubbed the biggest splurge in a generation, the Government unveiled a package of public spending and tax cuts designed to keep the economy on track long-term, while warning of a significant temporary impact from Covid-19.
Steven Owen, Managing Director of Shropshire based Pave Aways, welcomed the Government’s steps to tackle the impact that coronavirus may have on SMEs.
The building contractor employs more than 100 people at its Knockin headquarters and its sites around Shropshire, Mid Wales and the Midlands.
“No-one knows just how wide reaching this disease could be and, with businesses like ours where people work in close proximity to one another, it could have a serious affect on staffing and therefore a knock on to our company finances.
“The pledge to refund sick pay payments for two weeks for SMES has given us peace of mind.”
He also hailed Government plans to release £12bn in funding for new affordable housing schemes as a positive move for the construction industry.
“This is great news for building contractors like us and the supply chain we support. We have worked on many social and affordable housing projects in Shropshire and hope that some of this investment will come to our region.”
Budget tackles tricky problem
The Chancellor’s announcements on Statutory Sick Pay, in light of the current Covid-19 situation, were also welcomed by Neil Lloyd, incoming Managing Director at Midlands solicitors FBC Manby Bowdler.
“The Government’s announcement last week that Statutory Sick Pay would impact from day one, rather than day four was great news for employees, but could have proven tricky to businesses who’d be left to cover the cost at a time of already heightened disruption.
“Today’s announcement, therefore, that for businesses with fewer than 250 employees SSP will be refunded for up to 14 days, even where employees have to self-isolate without symptoms, should be welcomed.”
Bridgnorth-based web design company Clickingmad welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of a £5billion investment in high-speed gigabit-capable broadband for hard-to-reach areas.
Managing Director Shaun Carvill said: “It is absolutely vital that every area of our country has access to a strong, fast and robust broadband connection. The pace of change in the digital world means that no area can afford to be left behind when it comes to access to what is now an essential utility.
“This announcement is a welcome step towards ensuring that businesses in rural areas such as ours can compete with their urban counterparts on a level playing field and enjoy all the economic benefits that the digital revolution is bringing.”
Mr Carvill also welcomed the Chancellor’s budget announcement of £510m of new investment into the shared rural mobile phone network.
“We know that many of our clients are incredibly frustrated by the lack of decent 4G mobile phone coverage across Shropshire, so a pledge to ensure coverage reaches 95% of the country in the next five years is very promising.”
Anton Gunter, managing director at Global Freight Services in Telford, welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of extra support to boost exports.
“The announcement of £5bn of new export loans to businesses is good news for all those companies developing new markets overseas.
“The appointment of regional trade envoys will also provided some much-needed support for our exporting companies and the overall package of measures to develop the infrastructure necessary to help business thrive is very welcome.”
Richard Hilton, Managing Director of Telford access cover specialist Fabweld Steel Products said: “It’s great to see such a comprehensive package of support for SMEs in challenging times, including the extension of the employment allowance and small business rate relief.
“As a company which is always looking to innovate, we are pleased to see the increase in research & development tax credit to 13% which will undoubtedly boost the manufacturing sector.
“The overall injection of public spending in infrastructure, particularly in roads and rail will be good news for supply chain businesses too.”