CTI Blog

CTI Blog - Why Spring Budget looks good for business, but not so good for people in business

This guest blog post is by Iain McIlwee, CTI Director and Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF)


On the whole, the Budget is good for business, but not so good for people in business. The focus is on productivity and, as per our submission, it has picked up the areas of skills, business rates and investment. 

On the up side, it is positive that the Chancellor has addressed concerns around complexity of claiming R&D relief and on business rate valuations.  It is hard to say without the detail how much relief these reforms will provide, but we stand ready to work with those members worst affected to help them to present their case. 

It is vital that the Chancellor doesn’t, however, just chuck the inadequacies of this system over the fence to the new regional mayors - the situation needs to be monitored carefully, ringfencing Business Rates to support local government is very different to ring fencing them to support local businesses and further rises could be a brutal reality in some parts of the UK. 

It is worth noting that some of the gains for business will be offset by changing the tax structure for business owners, the Chancellor is in danger here of taxing hardworking SME business owners in a blunderbuss attack on disguised employment.  

Our disappointment is really on skills - more funding for Further Education is welcomed, and yet again we heard of the importance of parity of esteem, but we remain unconvinced that the reforms announced will put this behind us. The ‘T-levels’ may simplify (although the scope of these qualification makes the 'T' somewhat misleading) and we have already started the process of mapping our qualifications, but this is not the root of the problem.  It is simply wrong that we push the brightest towards the academic routes regardless of their wider skills and the UCAS process exacerbates this. 

Adopting a UCAS equivalent process is something BWF has been proposing for quite some time now, it is great to see that it has been taken forward by tte Industrial Strategy, but waiting til 2021 is not an option, we need prompt action to break the behaviours that are holding back recruitment for our sector. 

Finally I heard a lot about making things better for the next generation when it comes to wealth, but not so much on natural resources – it is concerning that sustainability seems to refer to the resilience of fiscal policy rather than treading lightly and not leaving future generations an environmental as well as a monetary mess to deal with.


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