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Autumn Budget: North West business figures react

Commercial property and business figures from across the North West have given their reaction to yesterday’s (22 November) Budget.

Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region will benefit from a new £1.14 billion transport fund under Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s financial plan.

Reaction from the region’s business community has been largely positive, with many figures welcoming the government’s focus on technology and funding for transport in the region.

Simon Reid, LEP

Simon Reid, sector manager for advanced manufacturing at the Liverpool City Region LEP, says: “I welcome the government’s focus on productivity and research and development. In the Liverpool City Region, we have been focusing on manufacturing productivity growth since 2013 and the transformative effect innovation can have on the earning potential of a company.

“By helping small and medium sized companies to adopt industrial digitisation to innovate products, processes and access new markets, we can close the productivity gap with the rest of Europe and the world.

“I look forward to the Industrial Strategy White Paper on Monday with great anticipation, especially in relation to the possible adoption of the Made Smarter Review and the recommendation of a North West Industrial Digitisation pilot.”

 

Dean Ward, Evoke

Dean Ward, co-founder and chief technology officer at Evoke Creative, says: “While not a giveaway budget, the R&D tax credit increase is welcome news. It will be well-received by innovative SMEs working in the UK’s digital technology sector. So too will the £500m pot of funding being made available to support the development of transformative technologies like AI and machine learning.

“But as a growing and internationally trading business, shipping our digital kiosks not only across Europe, but also to China and the USA, there was little reassurance that the government has a firm plan to support British exporters in the face of Brexit.”

Andrew McFarlane, Colliers

Andrew McFarlane, director and head of North West at real estate advisors Colliers International, says: “The Chancellor’s Budget reaffirmed his government’s commitment to regional devolution with the creation of a £1.7bn transport fund for city regions, a second devolution deal for the West Midlands and further investment into HS2, amongst other initiatives.

“His announcement of further investment in to rail infrastructure, in particular, funding for mobile and digital connectivity on Trans-Pennine routes, will be music to many Northern commuters’ ears.

“However, despite the Chancellor’s claims that productivity is key to the health of our overall economy, HS3 was left out. Investment in infrastructure to shorten journey times from Sheffield to Manchester and Manchester to Leeds is vital if we are to realise the economic growth potential of the North.”

John Keyes, Cushman & Wakefield

John Keyes, international partner and head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Manchester office, says: “The Chancellor faced an even more difficult balancing act than normal. The politics demanded some short term good news, while the fundamental challenges of the housing market, infrastructure investment, improved productivity and an effective industrial strategy all require long term planning, consistency of policy and commitment. All of this in the shadow of Brexit uncertainties and reducing growth forecasts.

“In Greater Manchester, there is a sense of a long term plan, but despite devolution, the city region and wider north west is still heavily influenced by decisions made in London and we still need government support and money to deliver the vision.

“There is some tentative suggestion of support for construction skills and training. I am not convinced it is yet sufficient. Without significant investment in skills, targets for additional house-building cannot be met or sustained.

“The Budget has given us some new initiatives and some new money but the economic context looks certain to remain challenging.”