Spring Budget is good news for businesses in Devon and Cornwall

The Government has revealed a number of new measures and extensions to existing support packages as part of the UK's long-term economic recovery plan.

Rishi Sunak's Spring Budget has been built around a three-part plan for the economy, including protecting jobs and businesses, shoring up public finances and rebuilding the economy.

Today's announcement shows that the Chancellor has listened to the concerns of the business community and delivered a budget that should help firms to survive and recover from this pandemic.

Stuart Elford, Chief Executive of the Devon & Plymouth Chamber and Chair of British Chambers of Commerce South West, said: "The extension of the furlough scheme, which we directly called for, will save thousands of jobs as firms gradually return to full operations.

"The extension of cash grants for business and the self-employed, together with the business rates holiday is also in direct response to our campaigning.

"Accepting that the debt caused by the pandemic has to be repaid, businesses will not relish an increase in corporation tax.

"Profit is not a dirty word; businesses use that money to reinvest and grow, creating jobs and contributing to economic growth.

"But Mr Sunak has tapered that increase and introduced incentives for investment in increased productivity, both in terms of tax relief on machinery and much-needed investment in digital, management and leadership skills.

"The continuation of the reduced rate of VAT is especially welcome in our region that relies so heavily on Leisure, Hospitality and Tourism and its associated supply chains."

There was more good news for the South West with the announcement that Plymouth has been selected as one of only eight successful bids to be a freeport.

It means the city will become one of eight new zones around the country to benefit from import and export tax reliefs with the aim of helping create jobs, growth, and innovation.

The other freeports will be located at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, the Humber region, the Liverpool City Region, Solent, Thames and Teesside.

Mr Elford added: "This is fantastic news for our city, county and region and is an opportunity to attract significant investment.

"The Chamber called for and supported this bid and all credit must go to the City Council who led it. This will be a major boost to our businesses that import and export as well as putting us firmly on the map as an ambitious growing port city."

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), also gave his reaction to the Chancellor's Budget: "There's much to welcome in this Budget for business communities across the UK.

"The Chancellor has listened and acted on our calls for immediate support to help struggling businesses reach the finish line of this gruelling marathon and to begin their recovery.

"Extensions to furlough, business rates relief and VAT reductions give firms a fighting chance not only to restart, but also to rebuild.  

"We particularly welcome the massive 'super deduction' investment incentive that the Chancellor has put in place for the next two years. This responds directly to our call to encourage those businesses that can to invest and grow.

"While no business will relish paying higher rates of Corporation Tax in future, the impact of the Chancellor's tough decision is blunted by the big new incentives for investment, lower rates for the smallest firms, and the extension of Coronavirus support measures in the short term.

"This Budget provides reassurance to businesses, provided that they are able to restart and rebuild according to the Government's road map.

"If firms face unexpected bumps in the road, the Chancellor must be prepared to take action until the economy is firing on all cylinders again."