Liverpool’s business leader’s respond to the Autumn Statement

Following George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday, business leaders in Liverpool reflect on what some of the announcement could mean for business.

The Chancellor’s controversial back-pedalling on reformation of tax credits made for mixed views, but many agree that plans to continue business rate relief and further devolution of powers to local authorities could paint a more positive picture for business leaders, with greater control over managed spend.

Peter Taaffe, managing partner at BWMacfarlane said:

“George Osborne’s Autumn Statement was, as ever, very politically savvy blunting a fairly obvious attack on Labour – but seems a little light on detail in parts.

“I am pleased to see he has ridden back on cuts to tax credits, this will be welcome news for most – not least our historically Labour working class. My concern is how he is going to recover the lost savings from abandoning tax credit cuts and close the funding gap that now exists – at present it seems unclear.

“I am personally relieved that the Chancellor will not be imposing cuts to apprenticeships. The programme has been invaluable in upskilling young people and helping them into steady employment. It may be an easy feather in Osborne’s cap, but society and the economy at large can only benefit from the decision to continue to invest here.

“Finally, it’s more good news for local authorities. George Osborne has devolved powers to increase council tax locally – a move that could of course help desperate councils – but may impose a tax increase on us all by the back door. I’m not entirely sure how it will impact business overall.”

John-Paul Dennis, partner and head of private client at Kirwans, said:

“Osborne’s amazing U-turn on family tax credits, forced through by Tory back-benchers, will garner him support from many quarters, particularly from hard-pressed working families. His announcement of the biggest real terms increase in the basic state pension for 50 years and the news that the triple lock increase will remain will also be welcome news for working families.

“This is a really positive Autumn Statement overall, particularly for families looking to make the right steps in terms of wills and legacy planning. While the figures to double the housing budget to deliver 400,000 affordable new homes by 2020, are already being met with scepticism – this commitment will mean a significant boost for people looking to get a foot on the housing ladder.”

Andrew Moss, head of corporate at  DSG said:

“Osborne’s announcement that the small business rate relief scheme will be extended for another year will be welcome news for the 6,000 small businesses effected, as is the ongoing focus on delivering competitive taxes. Relentless and continuous taxation changes have been hard for businesses to handle, and while admirable, the Government’s renewed efforts to crackdown on tax avoidance means that the climate remains choppy and changeable for businesses – with an increased admin burden and greater confusion around tax requirements for small businesses.

“Although not transformational, it’s positive news that 26 new Enterprise Zones are to be given the go-ahead across the length of the country. Steps to encourage innovation and strengthen centres of real expertise across sectors can only be a winner for business – particularly high-tech SMEs and start-ups.”

Anna Duffy, head of property at law firm DTM Legal, which has offices in Liverpool and Chester, said:

“Investing in a substantial housebuilding programme will help address one of the major issues facing the region and generate significant economic growth.

“Earlier this year, the National Housing Federation predicted tackling the North West housing crisis would boost the region’s economy by up to £312 million and create over 6,000 full-time jobs. Today’s announcements are a major step to achieving this, which will provide much-needed affordable homes for residents, bring wealth to the local areas and improve job prospects across the North West.”


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