Budget 2021: The national verdict
By Rob Freeman | 4th March 2021
Everyone, it seems, has had an opinion on Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget which spelled out his plans for an economic road map to recovery post-pandemic.
We sorted through the reaction from business groups representing a range of sectors.
Institute of Directors South West
"Business leaders will be relieved the furlough scheme has been extended further into the year.
"By extending support until the end of September, the Chancellor has given many businesses an extra cushion as they attempt to re-scale and re-hire when the economy reopens.
"Hospitality and the leisure industry has been particularly hard hit in the South West and needs all the help it can get to rebuild.
"Widening the eligibility for self-employed income support is also a welcome step, as many have gone without significant earnings for almost a year but the Chancellor missed a trick by not providing grants for company directors who continue to be left out in the cold.
"The Chancellor's efforts to combine life support for the economy with measures to turbocharge growth is the right call.
"Overall there is much for businesses to get behind in this Budget, and the Treasury should remain prepared to extend support if the roadmap goes off course, while building on its stimulus package today to drive long-term growth well beyond our immediate recovery.
British Retail Consortium
"The Chancellor has listened to many of our concerns and we welcome the extension of key business funding schemes.
"This announcement provides some targeted support to struggling businesses across the country.
"Action to support the retail industry will be vital to reviving the economy - including business rates relief, restart grants and loans, and an extension to the furlough scheme.
"For many retailers the devil will be in the detail, with caps on funding limiting access to this support.
"Retail accounts for more than three million jobs, spread across every region of the UK, supporting the success of our industry will be essential to unlocking consumer spending and driving forward the UK's economic recovery.
"The Chancellor must keep the situation under review, as we wait to see how the economy responds to reopening."
British Beer & Pub Association
"We welcome the Chancellor's announcement of continued support for the devastated pub sector in the form of additional grants, as well as extensions to the job retention scheme, 5% hospitality VAT rate and business rates holiday.
"The new grants are worth £400 million for pubs and will go some way in helping many of them survive through to the time when they can reopen and operate viably.
"It is, however, crucial that the Government ensures all pubs benefit, including those that are part of a group, by removing the current State Aid cap.
"The extension of the job retention scheme until September will help save thousands of pub jobs. Worth £700 million to our pubs and brewers, it gives the sector time to reopen and rebuild trade before bringing all staff back, which would otherwise be too costly and unviable while still facing trading restrictions until end of June.
"Extending the five per cent VAT hospitality rate until September and at 12.5 per cent thereafter is most welcome. We calculate it is worth £485million to pubs.
"Having called for a cut in beer duty and being a staunch supporter of the Long Live The Local campaign, a beer duty freeze will be seen as much-needed short-term relief for the sector.
"The Chancellor has only partially listened to the 500,000 campaign supporters who signed the petition calling for a cut in beer duty. We now hope the Government will use the ongoing Alcohol Duty Review to cut beer duty to support our brewers and pubs and level the playing field with other brewing nations.
"Overall, this is a good Budget for pubs and breweries in the short term, reflecting just how vital they are to the social, cultural and economic fabric of our communities.
"This is just the start of the journey on the hard road to long-term recovery for our sector."
"The Chancellor has listened to the concerns of the hospitality sector. Details are yet to be pored over but it looks like crucial support will help businesses at a critical time.
"The Chancellor has announced support to help our sector get back up and running, now it is vital that the Government sticks to its date of June 21 for a full reopening of the sector.
"Delay would see more businesses fail, more jobs lost and undo much of the good work the Chancellor has done to date."
"This Budget succeeds strongly in protecting the economy now and kickstarting recovery. It leaves open the question of UK competitiveness long term.
"The Chancellor has gone above and beyond to protect UK businesses and people's livelihoods through the crisis and get firms spending.
"Thousands of firms will be relieved to receive support to finish the job and get through the coming months.
"The Budget also has a clear eye to the future to ensure finances are sustainable, while building confidence and investment in a lasting recovery.
"The Government must now have a laser-like focus on the UK's competitive position in the round, including fundamental reform of the unfair Business Rates system.
"The UK must remain attractive for every type of business, from the innovation, high-growth UK homegrown firm to the global firms investing in the UK."
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