Spring Statement pledges SME support

The automotive industry could receive a helping hand in its battle to bridge the skills gap from Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement.

He has pledged £80m to support small businesses engaging in apprenticeships.

He also said the economy is continuing to grow beyond expectations, creating more jobs. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has increased its forecast for growth in 2018 to 1.5%, revised up from 1.4%. The OBR expects inflation to fall over the next 12 months, and wages to rise faster than prices over the next five years.

The Chancellor has also pledged to help small businesses by bringing forward the next business rates revaluation to 2021. He also agreed a review into how to help the least productive businesses catch up with the most, and how to eliminate late payments to small businesses – which has been an ongoing problem.

Meanwhile, the Spring Statement announced that the next business rates revaluation, currently due in 2022, will be brought forward to 2021. This will mean businesses can benefit from the change to three-year revaluations earlier, with the first taking place in 2024.

Furthermore, following on from an announcement in the 2017 Autumn Budget that £1.7bn would be set aside to improve transport in English cities, the government is now inviting cities to bid for the £840m remaining – after half the funding was allocated to Combined Authorities with mayors.