The London Chamber comments on the Autumn Statement

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Interim CEO, Karim Fatehi MBE, said: 

“We welcome The Chancellor’s Autumn statement and his optimistic outlook for the economy. After several difficult years of suppressed consumer demand and rising costs, businesses deserve a new policy direction that prioritises growth and productivity gains. The Chancellor has signalled the Government’s recognition of the need to significantly increase business investment.

“The measures outlined in the statement should improve the overall operating environment across the economy. We are particularly pleased by the announcement that full expensing for business investment will be made permanent. The introduction of measures targeted at the self-employed – such as reduction in Class 2 and 4 NI payments – is also a positive development that will encourage entrepreneurs and be a boost to SMEs.

“Our members continue to raise the issue of cross-sector skills shortages, so we welcome the additional funding for apprenticeships within growth sectors. We are also pleased that the Government has recognised the inefficiencies within the planning system which are holding back critical investment in infrastructure, and by extension economic growth.

“However, today’s statement was a missed opportunity to bring back VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors. London’s international competitiveness and attractiveness has slipped since the removal of the scheme. London businesses across the capital’s retail, hospitality, and food & beverage sectors are bearing the brunt of this uncompetitive policy. We urge the Government to reintroduce VAT-free shopping for tourists immediately, which will provide a major boost for London.

“Overall, today’s statement should give business leaders the certainty and confidence to ramp up levels of business investment. That said, we will continue to call on the Government to engage with the business community to build on today’s measures, deliver political and regulatory stability, and encourage growth. Doing so will ultimately unlock Britain’s economic potential and deliver greater shared prosperity.”