Chamber chief executive Corin Crane said: “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.
“Businesses will be relieved that the he has extended these critical business support schemes to match the timetables set out in the road map – extensions to the furlough scheme, business rates relief and extra financial support for retail, hospitality and tourism are excellent news and we are all optimistic of a summer of growth and business confidence.
“Many firms will be breathing a huge sigh of relief, particularly those businesses that are still closed or facing reduced demand due to Covid-19 restrictions."
Mr Crane said the furlough scheme had been a lifeline for companies all across the UK and the Budget provided reassurance to businesses, provided that they are able to restart and rebuild according to the Government’s road map.
“There will also be a lot of interest in the massive ‘super deduction’ investment incentive that will last two years and encourage businesses to invest and grow as Covid restrictions are lightened.
“However. the figures on national debt and the corporation tax increases are a sobering reminder that we have some very tough years coming up and as the details of these announcements become clearer in the coming days, we will begin to understand the size of the mountain our economy has to climb."
Staffordshire County Council leader Councillor Alan White said: “The Chancellor’s commitment to continued support for businesses and employees through the pandemic recovery is vital and will provide much-needed reassurance to communities here in Staffordshire and nationally.
“He has set out critical initiatives in line with the road map out of the pandemic restrictions which we welcome – from ensuring businesses can retain employees to supporting those that have had to close to reopen. In Staffordshire we have worked hard since the March 2020 lockdown to put in place targeted business and employee support with our partners where we knew it was needed most, making it easily accessible from day one."
Jarna Rahman, head of the conveyancing department at Wolverhampton law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, said the Chancellor’s confirmation that the Stamp Duty holiday would be extended until the end of June and then tapered thereafter not returning until its pre-pandemic levels until October was both good and bad news.
"Whilst there are many purchasers eager to complete ahead of the current March 31 deadline for whom this will provide some breathing space, it does continue to place immense pressure on conveyancing teams who are already under significant strain. However, the tapering that has been announced which means the £125,000 threshold won’t be reintroduced until October, may go some way to mitigating that strain.
“Separately, the reintroduction of 95 per cent mortgages should be welcomed. These will both encourage new buyers into the market, as well as making mortgages more affordable as the economy recovers from the Covid pandemic.”
Jo Harris, Lloyds Banking Group ambassador for the Midlands, commented: “Jobs and skills were always going to be a key focus in today’s Budget announcement, and there is no doubt that the doubling of incentive payments for businesses to take on apprentices will have been welcomed by West Midlands firms. It will help to create more opportunities for individuals and businesses and provide a boost to the local economy."
The boss of one of the Midlands’ largest training companies welcomed the Budget boost for skills and employment.
Chris Luty, managing director of Oldbury-based BCTG, said: “We welcome the extension of the furlough scheme as this will help avoid the predicted unemployment cliff edge.
“The increase in the incentives available for employers to recruit new apprentices to £3,000 is very welcome, particularly the increase (from £1,500 to £3,000) for those aged 25 plus.
“We recognise that much has been put in place for the under-25s, but apprenticeships are just as relevant for adults to reskill – as over 60 per cent currently are aged 25 plus."
Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training in Walsall, said: “Any support to get people into work and their chosen career path is gratefully received and we welcome the apprenticeship bonus doubling to £3,000. However, I can’t see it encouraging new companies to take on apprentices, instead it will just increase payments to those already planning to recruit."
Founder of Stafford-based performance-enhancing additives company Addmaster, Paul Morris, said: “A lot of businesses must already be seriously considering whether the UK is the best place to be following Brexit and, an immediate increase in corporation tax, would have really hit both business recovery and, importantly, strangle overseas investment. For that reason I’m pleased to see it delayed until hopefully the economy is in a much stronger position."