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Budget increase in transport and infrastructure spending welcomed

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Budget measures to increase spending on transport and infrastructure –including a third River Crossing in Gt Yarmouth -and boost housebuilding have been welcomed by businesses in the East of England.

Steve Elsom, regional director for SME Banking in the East of England at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “We spoke to local businesses ahead of the Autumn Budget and 70 per cent wanted the Chancellor to pledge further investment in transport and infrastructure, making today’s announcement welcome news for many business leaders. … many firms will be pleased that the Chancellor announced £1.7billion for the Transforming Cities Funds, which will see half the funds going towards cities with metro mayors like Cambridge."

“Action to simplify the planning system, allocate land to smaller developers and underwrite loans could all help to accelerate the pipeline of new homes in the East of England,"he added.

Suffolk Chamber chief executive John Dugmore: “Suffolk Chamber is especially pleased with the decision to peg business rates increases to CPI, rather than the higher RPI, but much more needs to be done to reform this up-front tax on our county and nation’s entrepreneurs. "

"We welcome commitments to delivering road and rail infrastructure, including that between Oxford and Cambridge which may well have a positive impact on Suffolk firms and plans to improve mobile phone signals on key transport corridors, which we hope will include the A14," he added.

Stuart Wilkinson, tax partner at EY in the East, said “In a budget where we anticipated a “steady as she goes” approach, there are a number of announcements that will be positive for business and people across the East.

He said the Transforming Cities Fund: "...will mean necessary spending on improving buses, trains and cycle lanes to drive growth and improve connectivity across the region. When you add in the £44bn investment for new housing and abolishment of stamp duty for first time buyers; there is plenty to be positive about.”

“Further investment in 5G underlines its importance as a productivity driver that can unlock new services for consumers and business alike. Yet ongoing research, dialogue and collaboration across industries will be crucial, if it is to deliver on its long-term promise. Business models and use cases require careful consideration, but practical progress in spectrum release and network planning is just as vital if users are to reap the full benefits of 5G.”

He added: “The Government’s investment in both training computer science teachers and digital skills in general is very welcome at a time of rapid change both in the UK and across the globe.”

On the measures to boost the housing sector, Stuart Wilkinson said: "Time will tell if we’ve just seen the start of the end of our housing crisis or the continuation of announcements which fail to be translated into real action but we are optimistic that this feels like a real commitment. “

But CLA president Tim Breitmeyer, who farms on the Essex-Cambridgeshire border, sounded a cautionary note. He said: “We need more homes of all types across the whole country. It is worrying for a Chancellor to be so explicit in describing a policy so completely focused on urban areas. The shortage of homes in rural communities is no less acute than in our towns and cities. Rural landowners stand ready and able to play their part in delivering the homes people need. Another budget has gone by without making simple changes to tax and planning policy that could make a big difference.

He also welcomed the increase in the number of small sites in local plans and the further funding for the Home Builders Fund.

Boost for 'energy sector capital'

The Government's confirmation that it will contribute £98m to support Great's Yarmouth's Third River Crossing, which would link the port and Enterprise Zone to the trunk road network, was warmly received in the Norfolk town. Cllr Graham Plant, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: ""As England's energy sector capital and a top UK coastal resort, Great Yarmouth has huge opportunities on the horizon.  The benefits of the crossing for our residents, businesses and visitors are significant, improving traffic connections, creating thousands of jobs and unlocking further business, regeneration and economic growth opportunities.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 November 2017 12:18 )