Responding to today’s Autumn Statement from Chancellor George Osborne, Neil Rami, Head of Business Birmingham – the city’s inward investment programme – said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s support for Lord Heseltine’s proposals – giving more power for funding decisions in the hands of the regions will drive growth across the country.
“Local organisations like Business Birmingham have an in depth understanding of the way their local economies work, and are best placed to get a return on investment from public money.
“The Birmingham city region has invited Lord Heseltine to test the proposals here, and help build on our success in attracting over £700m of business investment last year.
“We know that local companies will welcome the boost to the Regional Growth Fund, and we will continue to support them in their bids for funding.”
On increased funding for UK Trade and Investment, Rami went on to say: “Increased funding for UKTI and cuts to business taxes will boost the attractiveness of the UK as a whole, supplementing the work we do on a regional level and boosting our long-term growth prospects.”
Commenting on regional devolution he added: “We believe that regions need to be empowered to cut planning red tape and invest in their infrastructure in order to secure long term growth. In Birmingham we’re relaxing planning restrictions for businesses from sectors where we know we enjoy a competitive edge, such as life sciences and advanced engineering. And we’re investing in our infrastructure, rebuilding New Street Station and the city Metro, and investing in superfast broadband.
“Greater access and control over funding, combined with our successful approach to attracting investment, will enable regional cities to help drive the rebalancing of the UK economy, create jobs and build a sustainable future.”
In response to the Chancellor’s announcement that the fuel duty increase would be cancelled, RAC technical director David Bizley said: “The Chancellor had little option but to listen to the voice of British motorists and businesses and scrap the 3p fuel duty rise planned for January otherwise he would have faced a national outcry.”
However, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “Motorists will continue to pay a heavy price until we wean our cars off of their dependency on petrol and diesel.
“A few pence off fuel duty is simply tinkering under the bonnet – Ministers must completely overhaul their motoring strategy so we can have cleaner, cheaper transport in the future.”
Prof John Bryson, Professor of Enterprise and Competitiveness, University of Birmingham reckons this was: “An Autumn Statement that was predictable, but also included some important surprises… The key to economic competitiveness is certainty in the environment that surrounds business and continual investment in innovative products and services. The increase in the tax allowance for equipment and plant will encourage firms that are holding back on investing to consider upgrading their equipment and facilities and this is an important policy intervention. The Statement provides some certainty, but companies still face an uncertain future.”