Autumn Statement 2016: Will the chancellor deliver for UK business?

On November 23, Philip Hammond will reveal the government’s economic plans. This is what entrepreneurs and business organisations hope to see

In just two days’ time, chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond will reveal the Autumn Statement 2016 where he will outline his plans for the UK economy for the coming year.

While Hammond has been tight-lipped on these upcoming plans, he recently asserted that he’s keen to “make sure that the economy is watertight […] and that we’re ready to seize the opportunities of leaving the European Union.”

Want a reminder of last year’s Autumn Statement? Click here.

Ahead of the Autumn Statement reveal on Wednesday 23 November, we’ve rounded up the key policies and proposals on the Christmas wish lists of business owners and relevant business organisations. The question is, will Hammond deliver?

Better broadband access for businesses of all sizes

WiredScore EMEA director, William Newton, wants the chancellor to bring back the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme in order for small and medium enterprises across the country to have access to the internet they need:

“Many UK companies still need faster, more reliable, more affordable internet to be able to grow.

“Nearly a third of British small and medium enterprises are still without access to super-fast broadband and 130,000 businesses receive speeds below 10Mbps. One reason for this is that many small businesses are being priced out of enterprise broadband solutions, using residential services with low and/or unpredictable speeds.

“It’s essential that small firms are able to access the internet they need at affordable prices. The government must bring back the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme and educate small firms on the value of using it to buy enterprise-grade broadband services. This will ensure Britain is enabling our businesses to thrive in the digital economy.”

Incentives to improve the UK skills shortage

With Brexit on the horizon, Martin Leuw – former CEO of IRIS Software and founder of Growth 4 Good – is looking for the chancellor to take a more pro-active approach in closing the skills gap:

“We can’t curb immigration without incentivising employers in both corporates and particularly small and medium enterprises to invest time and money in developing the skills of their staff.

“Without adequate incentives, this will not happen and whilst not as visible as infrastructure spending its long term impact is crucial to our economy. The Apprenticeship Levy feels more like stick than carrot.

“Let’s get excited about a vision to transform our whole society into one that embraces technology and business through investment in STEM skills where business is encouraged to take an active role.”

Improved access to growth funding

Mei Shui, managing director of Virgin Startup, is calling on the chancellor to make it easier for businesses to find further funding as she believes the existing funding landscape for pre-scale businesses is restrictive:

“Now more than ever UK entrepreneurs need to be given the best chance to survive and thrive but so many start-ups hit a glass ceiling after their first few years trading.

“Our own research tells us access to growth funding is one of the main contributing factors to low survival rates for new businesses across the country. The chancellor has spoken about getting the economy match-fit and we think one way to do this is by addressing access to growth funding.”

Support for the UK’s freelance community

Lystable founder Peter Johnson is keen for the chancellor to show a commitment to supporting the freelance economy:

“I’d like to see the government offer tax benefits to businesses that hire more freelancers than full-time staff. I’d also like to see the barriers to entry for people to become a freelancer removed, by streamlining the tax process and reducing red tape.

“It’s currently too risky and daunting to become a freelancer and that needs to change.”

Greater investment in UK infrastructure

Robert Nichols, managing director of Portico, thinks Hammond should – and could – fast-track scheduled projects like Crossrail 2 in the Autumn Statement:

“To counter Brexit uncertainties, it’s vital we make sure our infrastructure and communication links across London and the rest of the UK are 21st century.

“Areas experiencing infrastructure investment typically benefit from a boost […] – even in an unstable or weak market. As we’ve seen first-hand in the last couple of years and more recently with the Night Tube, big infrastructure projects have a very positive impact on [business].”

Business owners, what’s on your Autumn Statement wish list? Let us know by sharing your thoughts in the comment box below or Tweet us @startupstowers 

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