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Autumn Statement: Business reaction

Business groups have responded to the upcoming changes announced within the Chancellor’s joint Autumn Statement and Spending Review.

Commenting on the new funding schemes unveiled in the Statement, John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) stated: ‘Given the tight constraints that the Chancellor was working to, small businesses will be pleased that he has listened to their concerns. Mr Osborne has managed to fund areas that drive productivity and long-term economic growth, such as skills and the science and innovation base.’

The FSB also said small firms would be ‘relieved’ by the extension of small business rates relief for another year.

Meanwhile, CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn welcomed the amount of long-term economic investment announced by the Chancellor. She stated: ‘This was a good Spending Review for longer-term investment in the economy but there’s a sting in the tail in the size and scope of the Apprenticeship Levy.

‘Businesses will be pleased to see the Chancellor staying the course on deficit reduction, his commitment to an industrial strategy, and the emphasis on nurturing a vibrant business community.’

Simon Walker, IoD director general, declared: ‘Businesses see strong public finances as the basis for sustainable economic growth, and will welcome Osborne’s confirmation today that he aims to run a budget surplus by the end of the Parliament.’

However, responding to the surprise tax credit U-turn, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The Chancellor has been forced into a spectacular climb-down on tax credits. But by the end of the Parliament many working people will still suffer big losses because he is keeping planned cuts to Universal Credit.

‘If the Chancellor really wants to battle for blue-collar Britain, he needs to recognise the importance of investment in public services, genuinely affordable housing, and a fairly shared recovery’.