The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) both praised the Chancellor after an Autumn Budget that has introduced welcome measures.
Philip Hammond’s statement to Parliament on Wednesday has been well received, with significant commitment outlined to get meet housebuilding supply, tackle construction skills shortages and invest in infrastructure.
On the eve of the Budget, the FSB called on the Chancellor to protect small firms, and requested an extension of the Home Building Fund so these companies could gain greater access to finance.
The Federation’s National Chairman, Mike Cherry, is ‘encouraged’ by the Chancellor’s housebuilding commitment, and an extension to the Home Building Fund.
He said: “It was encouraging to see the Chancellor acknowledge the vital role that small housebuilders will play in solving the housing crisis. The £1.5 billion extension to the Home Building Fund marks a promising starting point for making that solution a reality.
“The promise to invest £630 million to help more building on small sites, along with greater attention on upskilling UK construction workers, is much needed. Small housebuilders need better access to finance and better access to land. This Budget will help make that happen.”
The Federation had also called for protection of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which has helped a number of small firms to grow in their formative stages.
Measures to increase this will help SMEs with their productivity, Mike Cherry believes.
“FSB welcomes the increase in the EIS allowance. This will encourage more investment in the fast growing businesses that drive productivity growth.”
The CBI’s Director-General was similarly impressed with a Budget that “balances support for people on squeezed income with vital action to help grow the UK out of austerity.”
Carolyn Fairbairn was particularly pleased with the investment in the drivers of growth.
She said: “Building a skills system that supports the 4th industrial revolution is the right ambition, but the approach needs to be joined up with the National Retraining Partnership and coupled with apprenticeship levy flexibility.
“Additional investment in infrastructure will help tackle regional inequalities. The support for housing supply is critical for people and firms. Metro mayors will also welcome greater options for transport funding, but regions without devolution deals must not be left behind.”