In response to the Chancellor’s Budget James Muir, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“Our economy is still in crisis mode and so the extension of support for businesses must be welcomed but it does not go far enough. Indeed, many of the Chancellor’s initiatives are things we told him we needed in South Yorkshire last summer. But it’s hard to see what’s in the Budget that will support the longer-term project to level up our region.
“The extension to the furlough scheme is welcome and additional grants and loans will provide much-needed immediate relief, but businesses cannot plan for growth with piecemeal support. There are still considerable numbers of small business owners and self-employed individuals who are not eligible for the grants announced in the Budget, leaving them reliant on discretionary funding allocated to local authorities.
“I am pleased that the Government recognises firms need support to adapt to a post-pandemic world but we need long-term investment in jobs, skills and infrastructure to drive economic renewal. And that was missing from today’s Budget. There is no detail on if any support will be available beyond the autumn which could lead some firms facing a cliff-edge.
“Whilst non-essential retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will benefit from Re-Start grants and the extension to business rate relief, these businesses will only just have started trading again when they need to pay, albeit discounted, Business Rates. It is disappointing that the 100% Business Rate Relief for businesses that have not been able to open was not extended to March 2022, particularly as footfall in town and city centres will take time to return.
“The Government has made levelling up the country its main target by focusing on left behind places. But when it comes to actions not words, the reality is 40 of the 45 places to receiving a share of the first £1bn in Towns Fund spending are represented by Conservative MPs, with South Yorkshire missing out on investment. It is disappointing that the Government has taken this seemingly biased approach to levelling up without publishing its criteria for the allocations.
“In South Yorkshire we have businesses hungry for growth but the Government’s lack of appetite for investing in our region will hold back our ambitious plans for a jobs-led recovery that invest in people, places and businesses. Without Government support for innovative projects that will attract investment to our region, we are on track to be levelled down, rather than up.”