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Chamber Community Post Statement Reaction

Sean Keyes, Chief Executive of Sutcliffe and Simon Harris, CEO of Avrenim, share their thoughts on the Autumn Statement

Sean Keyes, Chief Executive of Sutcliffe:

“It was always likely that the Government was going to try to improve their image with this budget and make an impact for next year’s general election. It appears that the reason they’re making these changes is politically driven and not by what the country needs.

“We will take any reduction in taxes as this is the highest tax burden in my working lifetime.

“I was disappointed not to see more about the Help to Buy ISA. Not only would this have helped first-time buyers, but it would have also benefited the construction sector as it would have encouraged people to save for a deposit which would have meant greater demand for more homes to be built. That said, I welcome the £40m investment in busting the housing development backlog and hope the Government sticks to its promise of being ‘a builder, not a blocker.’

“I also think increasing the National Living Wage is in fact a negative. While raising the National Living Wage in London may work, what it’ll do in the provinces is make employers think more closely about employing a young person,

as it’d actually make more sense to employ somebody older with more experience for the same amount of money, making it even harder for young people to find their first employment – and that’s not what I want.

“What I’d prefer to see would be for the Government to put some actual funding into encouraging companies to upskill its young people, similar to the Kickstart programme, covering some of that initial cost associated with taking people out of unemployment and helping them into college and then the workplace.”

Simon Harris, CEO of Avrenim

“With today’s Autumn statement, there has to be clear consideration of the UK’s aspiration to be seen as the world leader in green technology. There are growing concerns about the UK’s capacity to retain its perceived aspirational position in the global race toward achieving net zero, other nations are seriously investing in a national green industrial strategy, actively capitalising on the prospects emerging from widespread industrial decarbonisation.

“There’s no denying that the UK lags behind in incentivising the adoption and acceleration of green technology. Increased strategic investment in infrastructure may translate to heightened demand for facility management services, however, more needs to be done to encourage the adoption of eco-friendly solutions to solve more complex problems. If we look across the water to the Biden administration who introduced a $369bn investment plan in green technology last year, this demonstrates proper commitment. Where is that level of commitment within our UK government net zero roadmap?

“The budget is a pivotal factor in shaping the industry in the run-up to an expected general election. From decarbonising the NHS estate and investing in renewable energy sources to fuel our hospitals and trusts, to raising the minimum wage to over £11, these are positive changes on the whole for many – and while I absolutely welcome more investment in making large facilities more eco-friendly – for the facilities management sector in general, the next 6-12 months could be crucial as its trajectory may change.

“With the Net Zero agenda taking precedence, the implementation of effective measures to promote greener growth will be essential to ensuring the UK doesn’t fall behind other countries when it comes to incentivising investment that is good for our cities, society, the environment as well as our economy and we need to put a plan in place to ensure we don’t wander into low growth and lost opportunities.

“Research shows that not only would the right strategy with the right backing deliver on the net zero ambitions, but it could also contribute some £74bn into the UK economy and given our current economic outlook, that would be a very welcome boost. That said, I welcome the £960m worth of investment into growing the green sector and the £4bn worth of investment over the next 5 years into more strategic investment into manufacturing with a net zero focus.”