Paul Cherpeau, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber, said:
“The Chancellor rightly recognised that current economic growth is moderate at best and can only be improved by increased productivity and investment.
Innovation is a key pillar of our city region economy, so we welcome any targeted measures that encourage R&D and boost investment in areas such as technology, advanced manufacturing, visual arts and clean energy. Extending financial incentives to Investment Zones and Freeports from 5 to 10 years should also help to encourage businesses to take longer term planning and growth decisions.
“If delivered, reforms to the planning process and greater access to the energy grid promise to accelerate business investment and businesses will be encouraged by the decision to make full expensing a permanent measure. It is also good to see the Chancellor taking active steps to reduce the scourge of late payments and adopting a more responsible approach in government procurement processes.
“Our members in hospitality, retail and leisure will be relieved to see the 75% business rates relief for eligible operators extended, while also freezing the business rates multiplier for those sectors during a very challenging time for many operators.
“Businesses will certainly want much more clarity on the proposed requirement for employers to pay into existing pensions schemes for new staff and it is unclear how such a policy might work in practice.
“While we welcome the promised two-year pilot to understand ways to increase apprenticeships in sectors of acute need, we would have liked the Chancellor to go further and enable an employer-led curriculum and a programme of education investment that offers a long term plan that employers can trust and create work-ready people, rather than the piecemeal approach of recent years.