It was the Chancellor’s first Spring Statement since moving the main Budget to the autumn and was, therefore, light on any major new funding announcements and it came just hours before MPs were due to vote on whether ‘No Deal’ should be ruled out in Brexit negotiations.
Louise Bennett, the chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the positivity being portrayed by the Chancellor hinged on the UK securing a deal with EU.
She said: “The forecasts and economic updates from the Chancellor were largely upbeat but they had the weight of a no-deal Brexit hanging over them.
“The consensus from business is that we don’t want a messy and disorderly Brexit. That is what the British Chambers of Commerce is saying because we need of certainty of what the next few years are going to look like in order to get businesses investing.
“So, in many ways, the Chancellor was saying what many businesses were thinking. It is absolutely vital that politicians use the next few days to find a way through the impasse in order to secure a positive deal with the EU that provides companies across our region with the clarity and certainty on which they can invest in and grow their business.
“In terms of the specifics, we welcome bringing forward the £700m for apprenticeship reform and also the additional £100m for policing.
“It is good to see the issue of late payment is starting to be taken seriously although the help on that is only marginal at this stage with larger companies only having to reflect their practices in their annual statements.
“There were also announcements around a new Environment Bill – although detail was light – and further commitments to build more homes, which is welcome. However, we would like to see similar priorities given to the next generation of employment land to ensure businesses have the space to grow.
“So, on the whole, it was never going to be a Spring Statement full of major funding announcements because the Chancellor will use the Budget to do that.
“It did, however, serve to highlight just how important a good deal with EU is going to be for the UK economy and for businesses on our patch. The decisions taken in the next few days are going to be vital.”