Autumn Budget 2021: Sheffield business leaders give their verdict on Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Business leaders in Sheffield have given their verdict on the good, the bad and the ugly in the Autumn Budget.
Steve Foxley, chief executive of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, part of Sheffield University, said the Chancellor recognised that science and innovation can help find answers to many of the challenges facing the region, the country and the planet.
He added: “Achieving net zero carbon emissions, levelling up our regions or responding to health emergencies requires investment in innovation.
“The Government's increase of public research and development expenditure to £20bn by 2024/5, including contributing to EU research programmes, is an important step.
“The emphasis on supporting the development of innovative clean energy technology and transport decarbonisation is particularly important.
“As we have seen at the Advanced Manufacturing Park and the Olympic Legacy Park, innovation-led growth can bring potent transformation to South Yorkshire. I have confidence in the package of policies set out today. Tomorrow will bring greater scrutiny of the detail and timelines."
Hayley Koseoglu, Sheffield business growth consultant, welcomed the expansion of tax relief for research and development to include cloud cloud computing and data costs but feared not enough business owners were aware of how to access it.
And a 50 per cent reduction in business rates for the retail and leisure and hospitality sector next year was only likely to benefit big companies because many small ones already receive rates relief.
She added: “I will be very pleased to be paying less tax to drink my rose wine and prosecco, but I will need a couple more drinks due to the fact that I'll be paying 25 per cent corporation tax!”
NATIONAL LIVING WAGE INCREASE
Hayley said she supported a 6.6 per cent increase in the national living wage to £9.50 per hour but feared the increase could be passed on to customers.
She added: “So does a wage increase like this bring real benefits when we are all likely to pay more at the till to offset the increase?”
Meanwhile, an eight per cent cut to the taper of Universal Credit ‘will be good news’ to those that want to work more but have been unable to because of their current caps.
For her company, Crystal Clean Service, it meant ‘our cleaners will be able to afford to work more hours and keep more of their increased pay’ and the business could offer them more work.
But too many business owners were having to take on jobs to survive.
“I was disappointed to hear that there is still no support for the small businesses, those who have been hugely affected during the pandemic, those who use dividends as their source of income but whose businesses have barely survived the last 12 months.
“I see a huge number of business owners forced to take on part time and full time jobs to survive and pay their bills.
“Those bills are rocketing with the cost of fuel, gas electric, council tax, and food going up consistently and I don’t feel the budget goes far enough to assist these people.”
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Adrian Lunn, head of property consultancy Eddisons in Sheffield, welcomed £570m for transport projects in South Yorkshire, including £200m for Sheffield, announced at the weekend.
He also said the business rate cuts announced in the Budget were positive and could unlock ‘billions of pounds of investment in the economy’.
He added: “The current business rates system, which taxes companies on the premises they occupy, was helping to scupper the Government’s own ambitions to create a high-wage, high-investment and high-productivity economy.
“It acted as a brake on investment in green initiatives and on national firms boosting their operations outside London because it penalised firms that has made that forward-thinking investment in their property with higher business rates.
“Although the full details are yet to be announced, it’s very positive to hear that the business rates system will be made fairer with revaluations every three years from 2023. The new green investment relief will also be helpful in encouraging property owners to invest in crucial sustainable technology such as solar panels.
“The one-year 50 per cent cut in business rates for the hospitality and leisure sector also makes sense, helping to bolster an industry that was dealt a crushing blow by the pandemic.”
Paul Ridgway, chief executive and co-founder of The Curve Consulting said: “We are delighted to learn of the commitment to invest in infrastructure improvements across the South Yorkshire region.”
“At The Curve, we have seen first-hand the positive impact of technology in increasing efficiency across multiple sectors - including when working directly with The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.
“Any commitment to investing in increasing the efficiency of the NHS and the Levelling Up agenda to support local communities is wholeheartedly welcomed. We hope to see it facilitate an effective and sustainable digital transformation across the UK.”
Two projects in Sheffield are set to receive millions from the Levelling Up Fund, the Chancellor announced.
Regenerating the Castlegate Quarter and parts of Attercliffe were both successful in the first round of the government’s flagship scheme.
The Star revealed in July that Sheffield City Council had bid for £20m for Castlegate to revive the area by de-culverting the River Sheaf and introducing new greenery and dedicated public spaces to make the area more attractive.
Land in the area would also be prepared for future uses that focus on education, employment and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
Meanwhile plans to regenerate Attercliffe received £17m. It is understood the bid include proposals for a Child Health Technology centre at the Olympic Legacy Park.
In total, some some £115m was unveiled for projects in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire including a new visitor centre at Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham a cultural quarter in Rotherham town centre and a major waterfront extension in Doncaster.