LEP response to today’s Budget03 March 2021
Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, David Kerfoot MBE DL, gives his reaction to today’s Budget news.
COVID-19 has caused a record economic downturn with government borrowing an eye-watering £280 billion to fight the pandemic. As we plan our way out of this and look to re-shape our economy in York & North Yorkshire to be greener, fairer and stronger, we hoped for a bold Budget from the Chancellor that would continue to protect people, jobs and businesses in the short-term whilst setting out a routemap for longer-term recovery. We welcome many of the Chancellors announcements today.
Critical to our regional recovery is getting our High Streets and businesses open and trading safely again. We all have a role to play in this as we continue to follow government guidance and open up cautiously. The £5 billion fund for grants worth up to £18,000 for retail and hospitality businesses will support them to get back on their feet and welcome customers through their doors once more. Right now, our businesses need certainty and cash, so guaranteed finance to support reopening will be a welcome boost. Add to this, extending the VAT reduction for hospitality and tourism, a 100% business rates holiday until July for certain businesses and a new £520m ‘Help to Grow’ scheme, these measures will certainly help many of our small businesses.
We also welcome extending both the furlough and the Self- Employment income schemes. These will help thousands of households in our region see out these next few challenging months. Furthermore, the boost for businesses to take on apprenticeships and traineeships will provide much needed opportunity and develop the skills base of our region’s workforce, an immediate benefit that will have positive impact in the longer term.
We are pleased to see lots of support for businesses in short-term, but to reshape our economy for the future and recover from the devastating blow that COVID has dealt us, we need longer term economic strategy.
That said, the creation of a new Infrastructure Bank in Leeds to accelerate progress to Net Zero, the setting up of a Treasury North in Darlington and the building of several Freeports including ones in Teesside and Humber is positive. With £1bn investment into 45 new town deals, including one for Scarborough and Whitby and the prospectus for the levelling up fund, this budget is a welcome start to the Government’s levelling up agenda but perhaps could have gone further in laying the foundations for a post COVID York and North Yorkshire. This budget, although slim in detail about some of the big initiatives, certainly looks promising. We are encouraged by this budget and look forward to working with Government to leverage our northern power in a national recovery.
David Kerfoot MBE DL, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership