Great South West welcomes growth-centric Autumn Budget

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Karl Tucker, Chair of the Great South West Partnership

This Autumn Statement is a welcome focus on boosting growth and investment in the economy. There is much in what the Chancellor announced which provides the right incentives for business, and also some relief for working people.  

The Great South West is particularly pleased to see measures such as the permanent extension to the ‘full expensing’ tax break, to incentivise business investment in new machinery, ICT and plant equipment; a new simplified tax relief scheme for small businesses to incentivise activities to drive research and development; and the reduction in National Insurance for employees and the self employed to drive employment. Alongside this, we welcome additional commitments which will directly benefit the regional economy. 

These include:

  • £4.45bn for the manufacturing sector, to unlock investment and drive the transition to net zero. This includes the expansion of the ‘Made Smarter’ programme to all English regions, which gives access to new support and finance for manufacturing businesses – a key growth sector for the Great South West, opening up opportunities for higher-paid jobs and investment across the region.
  • Reforms to the planning system to speed up approvals for new infrastructure projects to connect to the national grid, to boost our transition to net zero and clean power. Over 100 GW of capacity will be freed up so projects can connect sooner, offering new opportunities to capitalise on the Great South West’s unrivalled potential as a natural powerhouse in the green and blue economy.
  • A Level 2 non-mayoral deal with Cornwall, which transfers new powers to Cornwall Council including in areas such as skills planning, providing local leaders with more control and influence over the levers of local growth. Alongside this, Government is looking to move forward negotiations with Devon and Torbay for a separate Level 2 deal. Taken together, these deals will give partners across the Great South West new powers to work together to unlock investment into the region.
  • Levelling Up projects including the Plymouth & South Devon Freeport, Tone Works factory in Somerset, and  funding for the fishing and hi-tech sectors in Torbay.
  • Extending the current 75% relief for eligible Retail, Hospitality and Leisure properties for 2024-25 to receive a cash cap of up to £110,000. With discretionary spending still down, the impact on hospitality and leisure – key sectors of our region’s economy – is being felt hard. The tax relief for these sectors is welcome, although more needs to be done to bring business sentiment up.

The Great South West will use its unique power to convene regional partners across business, local councils, universities, colleges and trade bodies to collaborate and make the case for the region and its critical role in the UK economy. We look forward to working with Government in advancing opportunities for investment set out under the Autumn Statement.