People & Skills Projects - 08 March 2017

Budget 2017 provides little that is new, says D2N2

There was good news on national economic growth from today’s 2017 Budget but little new information on how Government would bolster the continuing efforts of the Midlands’ economy, says D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership Chief Executive David Ralph.

In his first Budget as Chancellor today (March 8), and the first since June 2016’s EU Referendum vote paved the way for ‘Brexit’, Philip Hammond was able to announce a number of positives for the national economy; including a revised growth estimate for the UK economy from 1.4% to 2% for 2017, an expected fall in public sector borrowing to 0.7% of GDP (gross domestic product) by 2021/22 and continuing rises in employment.

Mr Hammond also announced that the Midlands Engine Strategy would be launched tomorrow (Thursday March 9). This Strategy will seek to show how this initiative supported by businesses, local authorities, skills and training providers and ten local enterprise partnerships – including D2N2 – will help improve regional productivity, creating 300,000 jobs and adding £34billion to the region’s economy by 2030.

However, the D2N2 LEP – the private sector-led partnership promoting economic and jobs’ growth across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire – had hoped to see more specifics from the Chancellor on how he intended to back businesses in the LEP area and the region.

LEP area and regional businesses will benefit from national measures announced on:

*Skills

  • ‘T-levels’, technical and career focused A-level equivalents for 16 to 19-year-olds, will be introduced; with £500m invested in maintenance loans for those then taking on higher level technical skills courses. D2N2 already invests heavily in skills in its area, with a particular focus on engaging businesses in working with training providers to ensure the right courses are provided to fill local employers’ ‘skills gaps’.
  • Investment in retraining and for those, particularly women, returning to work after a career break was also welcome. D2N2’s EU funding allocation already backs a number of projects aimed at helping specific groups, such as older people and women, get into employment.
  • £90million will be provided from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to provide an additional 1,000 PhD places nationally, in areas aligned with the Government’s new Industrial Strategy.

Business –

  • A £435m package to assist businesses affected by business rate rises; including support for SMEs set to lose Small Business Rate Relief.
  • Confirmation of a previously announced pledge for Corporation Tax to fall to 19% from next month (April) and to 17% by 2020.
  • For transport and logistics sector businesses – one of D2N2’s eight key sectors – HGV vehicle excise duty and road user levy rates will be frozen from April 1 (2017).

Infrastructure –

  • £23million for the Midlands to address roads congestion, through work at ‘pinch points’.

David Ralph, Chief Executive of the D2N2 LEP – who watched the Budget as part of an invited panel of business experts, at an East Midlands Chamber event providing live and online comment on Mr Hammond’s announcements (pictured above) – said: “We and our fellow LEPs have actively engaged with the Government’s current consultation on its new Industrial Strategy, with D2N2 running its own survey of area businesses on the Strategy.

“We agree with the Chancellor’s drive for greater productivity, to create greater economic wealth which should be shared by all communities, and will be keen to see the practical measures spelled out in the Midlands Engine Strategy, to be launched tomorrow (March 9).

“However, other than that upcoming Strategy and funding to address Midlands’ road pinch points, there was little direct mention of this region in Mr Hammond’s Budget or how Government would be actively supporting its ambitions for the Midlands Engine, to increase productivity and growth for UK Plc.”

For further details on the Budget 2017 see Government website www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/spring-budget-2017

To find out more about how the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s work is building economic growth and jobs in its area, see its website at www.d2n2lep.org/

For further information about this news release contact D2N2 LEP Communications Manager Sean Kirby on 0115 957 8749 or email: sean.kirby@d2n2lep.org

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