Spring Statement

 Fiona Baldwin from Grant Thornton’s Northampton office
Fiona Baldwin from Grant Thornton’s Northampton office

In his first Spring Statement the Chancellor was in an upbeat mood and painted a largely positive picture of the state of the UK economy during his 15 minute speech when he spoke about a ‘balanced approach’ and ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

In the short to medium term, the forecasts look positive – higher tax revenues should result in government surpluses which can be used to pay down the UK’s debt. The Chancellor was also confident on growth, inflation and interest rates and as a result optimistic that earnings will start to rise in real terms – vital for so many just about managing here in Northamptonshire and across the region.

This also means that by the time of the main Budget in the autumn, we can expect announcements to increase funding for essential public services. Infrastructure investments were also mentioned several times - an area which is often cited by local businesses as a key component for further growth in the region.

Team Building at Stanwick Lakes the Chancellor turned his attention to skills and it was encouraging to see £500m pledged to support the new ‘T-level’ technical vocational quali cations, alongside £50m to help employers roll out T-level placements for students. A further £80m was also allocated to support small businesses engaging apprenticeships. The talent gap continues to present a pressing challenge for rms up and down the country and upskilling the next generation will be vital to future growth.

The Chancellor also promised a review into how to support the least productive businesses. This is a positive step and will help to create a more progressive, productive and vibrant economy for businesses, organisations and people not just here in Northamptonshire but across the whole of the UK.

Overall, the Statement was upbeat but by the autumn we will know whether we have a Brexit deal or if the UK will be moving straight to World Trade Organisation rules. There is no doubt that this is still the biggest question in the room.