The Autumn Statement – welcome news for SMEs?

If you managed to catch Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s first and last (shock!) Autumn Statement last Wednesday, then you would have noticed that there wasn’t very much on pensions. But, for small businesses there was a little more.

The Chancellor placed emphasis on infrastructure and innovation, declaring that he wants the UK to remain the number one destination for business.

Hammond

Hammond stated that he would be doubling UK export finance capability, making it easier for businesses to trade and export internationally, whilst big strides were announced in the digital landscape, promising to invest more than £1bn in digital infrastructure.
There was good news too for digital connectivity and communication. From April 2017, the government will roll-out full-fibre broadband across the UK, complemented by 100% business rates relief over a five-year period.

Hammond reinforced his commitment to invest £400m into UK start-ups via the British Business Bank explaining that we wanted to ensure SMEs have the opportunity to grow to scale rather than get ‘bought out’, by larger firms.

In line with helping the UK to ‘remain an attractive place to do business’, as Hammond put it, there will be an investment of £2bn more per year by 2020-2021 into innovative research. This funding will go directly towards the developments within science and technology such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
It was also announced that the government is going to implement Charlie Mayfield’s review of business productivity by providing £13m to help businesses improve their management skills.

While some employers were surprised by the continued commitment to increasing the National Living Wage, there was enough to bring a little early Christmas cheer with the spotlight remaining firmly on making the UK a business haven, with big efforts and investment into key areas from now until the end of the Parliamentary term.

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