IoD: Budget provides solid platform for recovery

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget speech, Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: 

“This Budget delivers a solid platform for many businesses to relaunch as the economy reopens. 

“The extension to the furlough scheme will provide a vital cushion to support jobs as restrictions unwind and firms begin the costly process of rescaling. Restart grants and ongoing business rates relief give a cashflow boost to many firms that will struggle to make full productive use of their properties as restrictions linger. Widening income support for the self-employed is a step forward, but the Chancellor missed a trick by not providing grants for company directors who continue to be left out in the cold.  ​

“The Chancellor’s efforts to combine life support for the economy with measures to turbocharge growth is the right call. Vouchers for SMEs to invest in technology, and provisions for management training, will help address the UK’s longstanding productivity problems whilst also boosting businesses’ ability to bounce back from the pandemic. The recovery loan package will offer a helping hand to many firms, but more needs to be done to catalyse equity investment in our cash-starved start-ups and scale-ups.   

“Retraining and rehiring will be uplifted by reforms to the apprenticeship levy and further financial support for both apprenticeships and traineeships. An improved visa route for the high skilled will foster innovation, as will steps to review R&D tax credits. 

“The prospect of higher taxes will no doubt bite for many firms that are still tending to wounded balance sheets. Delaying and tiering the the corporation tax rise is a pragmatic approach, though adjustments to the plan ​should remain on the table  as a clearer picture of the recovery emerges.  Overall there is much for businesses to get behind in this Budget, and the Treasury ​should remain prepared to ​extend support if the roadmap goes off course, whilst building on its stimulus package today to drive long-term growth well beyond our immediate recovery.