Commenting on the speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:
“The Chancellor confirmed a steady but not spectacular picture for the economy in the next couple of years. The absence of further tuning of tax and spend policies makes sense to businesses at this juncture as does the commitment to strike a balance between paying down the deficit and targeted investment spending. Specific actions on industrial strategy are what business is now looking for.
“Commitments to the industrial strategy pillars of people and infrastructure demonstrates progress in key areas of skills development and digital infrastructure but this will throw down the gauntlet to other Government departments to step up to the plate and deliver.
“Despite this positive picture however, the outlook for growth remains on the weak side at a time when global markets are expanding. This is being clouded by the domestic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and weak consumer spending.
“It is now critically important the Government achieves a positive transition deal at the European Council meeting next week to provide business with the certainty and confidence to invest. At the same time, manufacturers are looking to the Government to keep building momentum on delivering on a modern Industrial Strategy, in particular establishing an independent Council to measure performance and support business confidence in the strategy.”
On the Apprenticeship Levy, Stephen Phipson added:
“Manufacturers will welcome the recognition that the Apprentice Levy isn’t working and needs reform. Today’s announcement to help SMEs is a useful first step but Government must continue to engage closely with business to ensure the policy achieves its laudable aim of increasing Apprenticeship numbers.”