The Chancellor George Osborne has still not gone far enough to kick-start Britain’s economy, a Lancashire business leader has said.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said she believed the Chancellor could have “gone further” by scrapping planned increases in business rates.
But, the Chamber did welcome news on £3.5bn being put into stimulating the construction sector, scrapping September’s planned fuel duty rise and changes to the powers of the Bank of England.
The chief executive said the Chancellor needed to be “more radical in pursuit of growth” than the measures outlined in Wednesday’s speech.
She said: “We are at an unprecedented moment in economic history, and the government should be doing everything in its power to get the economy moving.
“Many of the Chancellor’s measures were targeted at larger corporates, and those that will benefit smaller companies will not take effect until 2015, which is too late.
“We need urgency, scale and delivery today.
“If Britain is in a global race, as the Chancellor said in his speech, our political elite needs to act accordingly, and pull out all the stops to support enterprise, jobs, wealth creation and exports.
“Business will appreciate many of the Chancellor’s measures, and his personal commitment to fiscal discipline and support for enterprise, but will wish he had been more radical in the pursuit of growth.”
John Kersey, chairman of the Lancashire branch of the Institute of Directors, said the Chancellor was right to stick to plans to reduce the deficite and welcomed cuts in corporation tax and giving small businesses £2,000 relief on National Insurance.
He also welcomed the new tax regime announced in the speech which aims to boost the burgeoning ‘fracking’ industry, which has seen exploration into unlocking natural gas in shale rock take place in Lancashire in recent years.
Mr Kersey said: “We have long called for a co-ordinated set of policies to encourage the development of a UK shale gas industry.
“The Chancellor is absolutely right to set attractive conditions for shale exploration - this will create thousands of jobs, and reduce our reliance on expensive foreign imports.”
Gary Lovatt, regional chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses in Lancashire, said he hoped the National Insurance relief would encourage small firms in the county to recruit.
He added: “We hope that this will start to feed through to the jobs market so that we can look to reverse today’s disappointing news on increasing unemployment levels.
“We know that small businesses can lead economic recovery and the measures announced today are a step in the right direction.”s