The Forum of Private Business reacts to the Autumn Statement

The Forum of Private Business has welcomed much of what was in the Autumn Statement, describing it as a helpful springboard for UK economic growth in 2013 and beyond.

The business lobby group welcomed a number of the schemes outlined by the Chancellor, such as a 10-fold increase in the Annual Investment Allowance, a 25 percent increase in the budget of UKTI to promote exporting, and the outright cancellation of January¹s planned fuel duty rise.

“A 3p rise in January would have been nothing short of economic vandalism in the current climate,” says the Forum’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford. “In fact it would have been hard to imagine a worse start to 2013 for the UK economy.

“Fuel prices have reached a cliff edge, and the Chancellor has acknowledged this. He has also clearly heeded the overwhelming objections from small businesses that high fuel prices are hampering their own growth ambitions on a number of levels.”

The Forum also pointed to more good news for SMEs in the shape of an extension to Small Business Rate Relief, and a 10-fold increase to Annual Investment Allowance up to £250,000.

“The increase in the Annual Investment Allowance to £250,000 is welcome but a tacit admission that the decision to cut the same allowance to £25,000 this year was a wrong one. Given that UK businesses are currently sitting on £700 billion of cash reserves, it could be argued that the earlier actions of the Chancellor created a disincentive to invest through 2012, at a time when business needs confidence to create growth.”

On the Chancellor¹s intention to employ 1,500 more tax inspectors to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance by big firms, he adds: “Tackling tax avoidance is of course a sensible measure. HMRC have in the past focused too much on the SME end of the spectrum, so we see this as a healthy rebalance, but the likes of Starbucks have brought this on themselves.

“We are now starting to see a change in attitudes, with large corporates beginning to understand the need to contribute more to the Exchequer, and therefore the coffers of UK plc.”

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