Speaking after the Chancellor's statement in the House of Commons, Westminster, London, Suneeta Johal, the CEA's Chief Executive, said that the construction equipment industry welcomed the Chancellor's pledge to overhaul planning restrictions and and get rid of EU regulations.
"The Chancellor said the new bill will 'unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws'. Further announcements are expected in the coming weeks; we hope, as an industry, he will stick to his pledge of prioritising infrastructure projects and energy – speeding up building! This announcement is, however, reminiscent of Government announcing fast-track planning reforms back in December 2020 - therefore, the jury remains out until we have 'concrete' reform plans in place."
Johal said the announcement that the Government is setting up 'investment zones' across 38 areas in the UK is also welcome as it will encourage new growth with offers to 'new' businesses of zero business rates and stamp duty waived.
She continued: "The decision to make the Annual Investment Allowance, which gives 100% tax relief on investments in plant and machinery to be 'permanently' set at £1 million, is what manufacturers and association representatives have been requesting for some time, so this is most welcome – it's good to have stability which will allow forward planning and encourage investment. We also welcome the £500 million to support new innovative funds in UK tech and science scale-ups, which will further encourage investment.
"The reversal of the national insurance rise and the cancellation of the planned rise in corporation tax has been well received. The corporation tax rise had not yet been implemented, so freezing something that hasn't happened yet does not encourage growth - so there's no 'reduction' – the situation remains the same. The standard income tax rate deduction to 19p in 2023 is encouraging – but we would have liked to see business rates reduced."
On a negative note, Johal described The Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which will see wholesale energy prices for businesses capped for just six months, as "very disappointing". She added: "There is an offer of a review in March 23 for struggling businesses; however, this is not enough; business should have been afforded the two-year freeze granted to domestic energy users.
"This has been hailed as a bold budget for business – we can only hope that this is not a budget of smoke and mirrors from Government – but a growth plan to release the huge potential in our sector."