Commenting on the Budget Statement, Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:
“Business would have had pragmatic expectations from the Budget given the wider and more immediate issue of Brexit. As such, given the political and economic circumstances this was a practical, realistic statement from a Chancellor who is wise to keep firepower in reserve should the economy enter choppy waters when the UK leaves the EU.
“Alongside this, however, manufacturers will be boosted that the Chancellor has kept his eye on the ball of tackling the UK’s longstanding productivity problem which remains a bar to raising living standards and improving our long term economic performance. Almost one year on from its inception the further boost to the industrial strategy will signal to companies that the Government is serious about backing it with funding in key areas for the long term.
“As well as continuing commitments to invest in modern physical and digital infrastructure the changes to annual allowances is significant at a time when business investment has been falling continuously since the referendum, while small companies in particular will welcome further changes to Apprenticeship funding.
“At a time when we need to show the UK is open for business and is building a modern economy post Brexit, today’s statement combining realistic financial prudence with targeted commitments to boost productivity will be welcomed by manufacturers.”
On the apprenticeship levy and co-investment reduction Verity Davidge, Head of Education & Skills Policy at EEF, said:
“Manufacturers deliver high quality apprenticeships which come at considerable costs, this can be particularly challenging for SMEs. Today’s announcement to reduce the co-investment rate for small business from 10% to 5% will spur more small businesses to create additional apprenticeships, which in turn will deliver a much needed boost to skills in our economy.
“While the Chancellor has recently announced greater flexibilities for Levy paying firms, including increasing the amount an employer can transfer to another employer, we would have like to have seen this agenda pushed further. In particular, a commitment to give employers longer to spend their funds and an opportunity to spend more of their money, would have been the cherry on top of today’s announcements.”