Scottish Chambers of Commerce Responds to UK Budget

Liz Cameron OBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, comments on the Chancellor’s Budget announcement.

“Today’s Budget has been largely positive for business communities across the country. The Chancellor has delivered a wide-ranging Budget with key announcements including £150m funding for the Tay Cities Deal, committing to freezing the duty on fuel, whisky, beer, cider and spirits, which will support the hospitality and retail sector, and supporting Scotland’s oil and gas industry. Businesses will now look ahead to ensure the UK Government delivers a clear Brexit deal, which enables businesses to plan and prepare. Ultimately, today’s Budget will only deliver certainty and economic opportunities if a Brexit deal can be reached and clearly charts our future relationship with the European Union and trading partners beyond March 2019.

“Finally, with Scotland set to receive £950m through to 2020-21 as a result of Barnett consequentials, we look forward to collaborating with the Scottish Government to ensure additional funding is directed to delivering a boost to business and fosters economic growth in communities across Scotland.”

Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement on Business Rates Relief, Liz Cameron, said:
“SCC welcomes any moves that will ease the financial burden on businesses across the UK. With reliefs announced by the Chancellor that will support the high street and provide relief to nearly 500,000 small retailers, we look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government to ensure that Scotland adopts the most competitive business taxation system. Businesses will look to the Scottish Government to utilise any consequential uplift from the Barnett formula and direct any additional funds towards business investment.”

Commenting on the additional announcements on VAT and various tax freezes, Liz Cameron, continued:
“We welcome the Chancellor’s decision to maintain the VAT threshold for SMEs for a further two years. Changing this suddenly would have landed many small businesses with huge administrative and unwanted financial burdens, placing additional strain on many business owners.
“In addition, freezes on fuel, whisky, cider, beer and spirits, will be welcome news for consumers, manufacturers and retailers.”

On the fishing industry, Liz Cameron, added:
“With a large proportion of the UK’s fishers based in Scotland, the industry will welcome the Government’s investment of £10 million to establish an innovation fund. As we chart our new relationship with the European Union and other trading nations, it is critical that we ensure our fishing industry remains world-leading.”
On Air Passenger Duty (APD), Liz Cameron, said:
“It is disappointing that the Chancellor chose not to reduce Air Passenger Duty (APD), despite the economic benefits of doing so, missing a clear opportunity to signal that the UK is open to the world. We urge the Chancellor to review this position at the earliest opportunity. Ultimately, reducing APD will enable the aviation sector to maintain and expand vital connections and will incentivise more businesses to consider exporting, increasing opportunities for trade and investment.”

On announcements for the Oil & Gas industry, Liz Cameron, said:
“Our members from the oil and gas industry will applaud the Chancellor’s announcement to make Scotland a ‘global hub’ for decommissioning, further strengthening Scotland’s position as a world-leader in the industry. The Chancellor’s commitment to keep headline tax rates at their current level will also be welcomed by all in the sector providing certainty and stability to the industry.”

Tim Allan, President, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, comments on the Chancellor’s announcement on Tay Cities Deal:
“Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network has consistently campaigned for the Tay Cities Deal to be taken over the line and this joint commitment by both Governments will be applauded by businesses and local communities. We welcome the UK Government’s £150 million funding to the Tay Cities Deal, on top of the Scottish Government’s £200 million commitment, and we are in no doubt, that this will bring additional transformational change to the region and to Scotland. We now look ahead to engaging with both Governments as we seek further investment into Scotland’s local economies and we welcome the Chancellor’s specific announcement to continue negotiations on deals for Ayrshire and Borderlands.”