Coventry & Warwickshire wants region to benefit from Autumn budget

Cov Warks budget response

Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire want the region to benefit from a major announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce hosted a range of businesses at an event to watch Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget at the Telegraph Hotel.

The budget was given a cautious welcome as the Chancellor announced he was using the statement to invest in future growth and also support firms still suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

That included a 50 per cent discount on business rates for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector; a freeze on fuel duty, £3.8bn investment in skills and further support for Research & Development.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the region would look to benefit from a £1.4bn Global Britain Investment Fund which has money set aside for vehicle electrification.

She said: “It was a very upbeat budget delivery considering the 18 months businesses and individuals have faced.

“The devil is always in the detail with the budget statement because there are always lots of big numbers mentioned but takes some time to understand exactly what it means for firms and the region.

“The Global Britain Investment Fund is something we believe could be positive for Coventry and Warwickshire and our hopes for bringing a Gigafactory to the region. This area has the potential to be at the forefront of vehicle electrification.”

Louise added: “There was a good acknowledgement of inflation but this was more with a focus on the role of the Bank of England, rather than any Government fiscal measures. There were predictions of four per cent inflation, but businesses in the room see this as potentially being higher.

“We welcome scale-up visas if they help businesses attract and bring-in critical skills and talent that cannot, otherwise, be home grown. Recruitment issues remain a major headache and drag on growth.

“Businesses hit hardest by Covid will welcome the 50 per cent discount on business rates and the business rates improvement relief will incentives businesses to make improvements to properties.

“We welcome strong and further investment in skills and it is important that we see strong alignment between employer needs and skills supply.

“There was also positive news around the fuel duty rise being cancelled which is a boost for business and the self-employed at a time when costs are rising.

“On that note, we support the principle of increasing the living wage and understand the need to increase the incomes of our lowest paid. However, business costs are rising across the board and will contribute further to rising inflation.

“As UK City of Culture, welcome additional for the sector as we have seen what a difference it can make in our cities and towns.

“On the whole, businesses will wait to see what details emerge as they look to recover from the most difficult period any of us have faced.”