Autumn Statement 2013: Responses

The business community has been quick to react to Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement. Here's a summary of responses from the UK's leading business groups.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), provided a mixed response to the statement. Whilst stating that the Chancellor had recognised some of their concerns, the statement failed to implement deeper reforms:

"Action on business rates was the top priority for our members, and the Chancellor has addressed some of their concerns in the Autumn Statement. Too many businesses suffer from yearly price rises so capping business rates increases is a welcome measure.

"What remains outstanding is a fundamental reform of business rates, which we will continue to press for."

Confederation of British Industry director-general John Cridland echoed the FSB's concerns regarding business rates and called for increased support for growing businesses:

"Alongside the positive measures to help the high street, including the two per cent cap on rates, empty property incentive and £1,000 boost for smaller retailers, we need to see a review of the outmoded business rates system.

"We now need to see a renewed focus on supporting our medium-sized businesses, the unsung heroes of our economy, as they try to crack new markets."

Director-general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Helen Dickinson praised the Chancellor's reforms but also stressed that further changes will be necessary:

"The Chancellor has recognised that businesses are suffering and is right to listen to retailers' concerns on business rates. The BRC has campaigned for a two per cent cap and reform of the business rates system and it is extremely welcome to hear it announced.

"BRC is already conducting a detailed study into options to improve the business rates system with tax experts EY and look forward to playing a full part in the discussions that will take place with Government on the reform of the system."

British Chambers of Commerce director-general John Longworth said this year's Autumn Statement is a step in the right direction but believes further measures should have been taken:

"The measures announced to curb business rate increases are positive, but not strong enough to boost companies' cash flow and investment. The Chancellor should have been bolder, freezing business rates entirely until this pernicious tax can be properly reformed."

Phil Orford, CEO of the Forum of Private Business (FPB), welcomed the business rate discount but was less enthusiastic about the two per cent cap, admitting that the FPB had been expecting more:

"The £1,000 further discount for retail properties with a rateable value of less than £50,000 was an unexpected surprise and hugely welcomed. With councils freezing or capping Council Tax, businesses continue to pay a higher proportion of local taxation without seeing real benefits.

"97 per cent of businesses feel property taxation is too high so the extension to Small Business Rate Relief and the cap on business rates to two per cent are both welcome, but sit at the lower end of what the Forum of Private Business was asking for.

"We feel there needs to be a more fundamental review of business rates."