Thursday, November 23, 2017

News: Budget 2017 reaction

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Reaction from around the region on key areas outlined in the Autumn Budget.

One focus for the Government is boosting the UK's productivity and a white paper on a new Industrial Strategy is on its way.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said: "Public R&D investment will play a major role in increasing the UK's economic productivity. By supporting platforms dedicated to R&D and innovation, including the UK's network of High-Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres [including the AMRC and Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham and Sheffield], the Government can crowd-in investment in R&D and innovation from the private sector and bridge the funding gap between the UK and other major economies.

"This will ensure that companies can invest in the long-term – replacing old technologies and machinery, boosting the skills of their workers and becoming globally competitive companies which pay high wages. As a new era of production efficiency emerges, we need to invest in Industry 4.0 production technologies – such as Big Data and the Internet of Things – to stimulate growth in our manufacturing base and focus on the places where productivity has remained historically low for decades."

Rab Scott, Head of Digital at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), added: "Our initial reaction is surprise that there wasn't detailed support for UK manufacturing.

"We eagerly await the publication of the Industrial Strategy next week to see where the announced R&D funding is directed, and would hope that targeted funding for the greater adoption of digital technologies in manufacturing - a recognised productivity enabler - is evident it the white paper. Only by adopting these technologies can we hope to achieve the productivity increase that the UK needs."

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On housing announcements, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has already said the main effect of proposed changes to stamp duty would be to raise house prices and only lead to the purchase of an additional 3,500 homes a year. It also added that it did not think the house building measures would make much difference.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey is the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing and has attacked the Government for its record on housebuilding and affordable homes. He tweeted to say that the so-called "housing budget" had no new Government investment in affordable homes, no action to help renters and three homeless pilots, adding that it was "not up to the job."

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham said that the Budget: "fails to address the disparity in spending in Yorkshire & Humber compared to London on transport." Without an elected mayor at present, the Sheffield city region has missed out on around £100m of guaranteed funding for transport. Funding has also yet to be confirmed for Northern Powerhouse rail and Transpennine improvements.

Taking to Twitter, Champion, who left the Shadow cabinet in August, added that: "The meagre rise in the National Living Wage to £7.83 is still below the Real Living Wage that is what employees and their families need to live."

The Sheffield city Region Local Enterprise Partnership joined with other business leaders to call on support the region on funding, transport and skills. Resonding to the Budget, Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of the LEP, said: "The Chancellor's revised forecasts for UK growth and productivity further underline the importance of investing in a stronger Sheffield city region to make a more resilient UK economy.

"Sheffield City Region showed a gain of 37,000 jobs between 2014, when the LEP launched its Growth Plan, and 2017. Activity led by our LEP has contributed 16,000 new jobs to the economy and leveraged £318 million of private sector investment. We want to work with Government to build on this success and achieve transformational change.

"Following today's budget, our LEP will be working with Government to make sure we take advantage of its new transport fund for city regions. The LEP will insist that Sheffield City Region gets its fair share of this fund so that we can deliver our strategic plans for a super-connected city region.

"The Chancellor's Budget set out ambitious plans to be build thousands more homes and we will work hard to make sure that a good share of these homes get built here in Sheffield city region. The way to get things done is through the Sheffield City Region and our own Housing Investment Fund has received an exceptionally high level of interest. Although this is going some way to helping us to meet our housing ambitions, it is good to hear Government say that it can and that it will do more to boost house building.

"In Sheffield City Region we are building a truly competitive centre of business excellence which is now at the forefront for high performance components for the aerospace and the automotive sectors, with recent investments from McLaren and Boeing further enhancing our capability. We welcome the news that the Chancellor will make additional funding available for investment in research and development and we will work with Government to ensure they realise the scale of opportunity in Sheffield city region."

Images: HM Treasury

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