Milton Keynes Chamber chief has got budget statement concerns

Chancellor Philip Hammond
Chancellor Philip Hammond

Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Griffiths has given a mixed reaction to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget statement.

He has welcomed statements on business rates, the top campaign priority for chambers of commerce, but is concerned about some other elements of the Spring Budget revealed last week.

Mr Griffiths said: “The business communities hardest hit by this year’s business rates revaluation will breathe a little easier thanks to the Chancellor’s decision to offer a package of transitional reliefs.

“We now challenge councils across England to use every penny of the new funding announced by the Chancellor to offer relief to the hardest hit businesses in their areas, without excuses and without delay. However welcome, measures that mitigate the short-term impact of business rate rises are little more than a sticking plaster.

“The radical changes needed to improve the broken business rates system will have to wait for another day. The campaign for radical reform – and an end to punishing levels of business property tax to ensure the Treasury raises enough to fund local services – continues.

“In the longer-term, fundamental change is needed.”

On international trade, Mr Griffiths said: “There was a noticeable and disappointing absence of any new support for exporters, or measures to encourage international trade in this Budget.

“As we begin the Brexit process, it’s more important than ever to get UK businesses trading their goods and services with the world. The Government must do more to incentivise and promote companies to be ambitious and trade to new markets.”

On the Making Tax Digital scheme, Mr Griffiths said: “The temporary deferral of making tax digital for firms below the VAT threshold is a welcome step.”