Northamptonshire business leaders welcome Autumn Statement

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

Business leaders in Northamptonshire say the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement contains positive news for the county.

Jo Lappin, CEO of Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, said: “Overall we believe that the statement contains positive news for our Northamptonshire businesses and people. We certainly welcome the increased growth predictions to both this year’s output and for 2014, with our ambition locally being to deliver annual growth at 1% a year over and above this, reflecting our strong performance to date.

“OBR’s expectation that the number of jobs will rise by 400,000 this year is really good news. We particularly welcome the new measures announced to support apprenticeships, and abolish National Insurance for 18-21s, which will boost the jobs market for young people in the county and make it easier for businesses to employ them. We are fortunate to have high levels of employment, which significantly exceed national averages, and it is important that our young people share in this success. We run a number of schemes to help local companies take on apprentices and match the right young people with suitable jobs.

“In Northamptonshire, we are the second highest national performer on the proportion of people employed in export intensive industries, so really do understand the importance of working with international markets. We are already working on a number of trade initiatives, including work with China to boost trade locally, so it was good to see the pledged doubling of UK export finance to support British businesses.

“With business rates capped at 2%, small and growing businesses are set to benefit. 99% of our businesses in Northamptonshire are small or medium sized enterprises and we recognise that the economy is underpinned by our enterprising local business owners. We also welcome the support for the high street, recognising that we have seven distinct areas each with their own retail offer. Shops, cafes and pubs will benefit from the measures announced today and this is great news for our high streets and wider economy.

“Northamptonshire offers unrivalled business support to companies and it was particularly encouraging therefore to hear the Government’s plans to expand start-up loans to help entrepreneurs start their own businesses.

“We have one of the strongest logistics hubs in the country and the freeze on fuel duty is great news not only for this thriving sector, but also for the many smaller companies who rely on a van or car. The decision on rail fares is also welcomed as we recognise the importance of this to those who commute in and out of our economy.

“Northamptonshire has committed to significant housing growth and the decision on the new infrastructure fund to unlock housing sites, together with the funding available for new affordable homes is very welcome.”

“The Chancellor stated that ‘Britain is moving again’ and we believe that Northamptonshire has and will continue to play an increasingly important role in that recovery.”