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East Midlands Chamber News

Holding Spring Statement failed to send strong message to EU and wider world


Commenting on today’s Spring Statement, Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at award-winning East Midlands Chamber*, said: “Mr Hammond painted a positive picture of where UK plc is today and how, as the fifth largest economy in the world, it is within our gift to become stronger in the years ahead.


“But this came with a significant caveat, and he made no attempt to veil a warning that in his opinion the future success would be undermined if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


“Beyond referencing the tariffs announcement made this morning, he didn’t send any messages to Brussels about how the Government will make sure the UK remains a priority for international investment.


“He talked about infrastructure investment, including railways and broadband, and referenced the Northern Powerhouse’s transport plans but didn’t mention HS2 Phase2b Eastern Leg, electrification of the Midlands Main Line or the East Midlands at all despite the continued per capita under investment in this region.


“We were pleased to see that he is taking steps to end what he called ‘the scourge of late payment’ suffered by small businesses – an issue that continues to worsen for many of our members – and we look forward to seeing the outcome of this.


“Mr Hammond’s announcement of a mandate to end installation of carbon-generating heating systems in new homes by 2025 is a positive for the environment. There are many people working in companies in the East Midlands making gas-fired boilers and there must be support available to these businesses to help them make the transition to more sustainable ways of working.


“All in all, Mr Hammond has essentially delivered a holding statement, hinting at a further ‘Deal Dividend Statement’ in early summer only if the country secures an orderly exit from the EU.


“While this won’t come as any surprise to businesses, there remains a feeling that more could be done to underline the real opportunities we have in the East Midlands – it is essential that Government recognises these and backs us to achieve them.”


*East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire)