February 2024


BUDGET: Comments and reactions sent to GPSJ

NCB statement on Budget 2021

Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said:

“The full effect of the pandemic on families’ finances will only be fully appreciated as the furlough scheme and other measures that protect jobs are wound up at the end of September. Yet this is the moment that the Chancellor will claw back £20 per week from struggling families who rely on Universal Credit to survive. This extra money must be made a permanent increase to benefits, to counter the soaring levels of child poverty seen even before the pandemic struck and should be offered to those living on other legacy benefits too.”

“While measures to improve apprenticeship and trainee schemes will be welcomed by young people facing a deeply uncertain future, the Chancellor failed to acknowledge the full impact of the disruption to children’s lives over the past year. We urgently need a plan that supports children to catch-up for lost school time, which factors in the emotional and psychological stresses of a year growing-up in isolation and chaos.

“Extra money for domestic violence programmes is welcome, however, investment in children’s social care is long overdue. Local authorities need to be able to meet the increasing demands for their help, something they have found increasingly difficult to do given the steady erosion in funding for children’s services over the last decade.”

More information is available at

JMW Solicitors

On what today’s Budget means for businesses, Mark Heppell, Partner at JMW Solicitors, says: “The freeze on Capital Gains Tax (CGT), and no mention of business disposal relief (Entrepreneurs’ Relief), is good news and business owners will breathe a sigh of relief (for now). The speculation surrounding CGT reforms was quite heavy leading up to the budget, and given the reviews that have been carried out in the last year, I would not be surprised to see changes in the near future so the message to business owners planning their exit will still be to bring forward their plans as it does feel like the days are number for the current regime.

“I’m also not surprised by the increase in Corporation Tax (from 2023) and it makes sense to me that the most profitable businesses will be called upon to contribute in a greater proportion. Hopefully the freezing of the rate below £50k profit and tapering to £250k profit will give some comfort to SMEs, but it will mean that, for most, there is more to pay.”

TSSA – Sunak’s Wasted Opportunity Budget 

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has described the Budget as “a wasted opportunity” to set out a meaningful economic roadmap from the Covid crisis, for the travel sector and beyond.

Cortes attacked Rishi Sunak’s measures as “showbiz and spin” while lacking “solidity”.

Commenting, Cortes said: “Sadly the Chancellor has presided over a wasted opportunity in his Budget, again ignoring the plight of the travel sector and others who have been so badly hit in the pandemic.

“While our union welcomes the extension to the furlough scheme, we know that many workers and businesses, not least in our travel trade, will be no less worried about their prospects after hearing from Rishi Sunak.

“Time and again our union has told the Government they must leave no stone unturned when it comes to securing the future of our high street travel agents. Yet we heard nothing. Time and again we have warned that Eurostar – our green link to Europe – requires intervention, again we heard nothing.

“This is deeply troubling. What we heard from the Despatch Box today was a lot of reheated announcements, coupled with showbiz and spin. Where were the rewards for our key workers who have done so much for our country throughout the pandemic?

“Sunak offered nothing on raising statutory sick pay, nothing on increasing the minimum wage, nothing on climate change and no big plan to help workers across the board, after a decade of Tory cuts.

“This is a Government and a Chancellor lacking in vision and offering no economic solidity. The people of this country will not be fooled.”

Edison Group

Alastair George, Chief Investment Strategist at Edison Group, comments: “A government spooked by the experience of austerity in the previous recession has offered a budget which implies a slow repair of UK government finances, in-line with other nations and also in our view the best way forward. Clearly, leading up to the budget the traditional Conservative virtues of fiscal prudence have been paid only with lip service. However, the reality is that COVID-19 has the stronger influence on policy. Emergency support programs have been extended into the autumn and the payback will come slowly with rises in corporation tax and stealth increases in personal taxation, through the freezing of allowances.”

Womble Bond Dickinson

Kevin Bell, transport partner at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, comments:

“We welcome the fantastic news that the Government has decided to set up a Freeport on Teesside. This will undoubtedly help deliver transformational improvements and drive forward the levelling up agenda. This Freeport will bring millions of pounds of investment, create significant new jobs as well as support some the UK’s key sectors like clean energy, chemicals, transport and infrastructure to name just a few. The economic potential of the Freeport cannot be underestimated. It is huge and will play an important role in strengthening the North East’s future trading position.

“In order to realise the full benefit of Freeport, further transport and infrastructure investment will be essential (particularly as it is based on a multi-gateway, multi-modal model, with links to rail-enabled sites and Teesside International Airport). Excellent transport links will need to be established to support, for example, just-in-time logistics and operations within the Freeport.

“It is also great to hear that a major part of Her Majesty’s Treasury will be relocating to Darlington, importantly including senior civil service posts that shape policy and decisions. This, alongside the recent changes to the Green Book appraisal process, has the potential to create a more vibrant and beneficial culture of decision-making for new transport and infrastructure schemes here in the North East (not to mention a beneficial increase in traffic on the East Coast Main Line and at Teesside International Airport).

“Yet it is extremely disappointing that the North East Freeport bid has, at this stage, been unsuccessful. And the Chancellor made no further comment or commitment (at least from the dispatch box) to rebuilding public confidence in using public transport, Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 in the North and plenty of other “shovel ready” transport projects that fall within the quick wins pipeline (such as road and rail schemes and electric vehicle charging points).”

Budget reaction: statement from Institute of Economic Development

“In today’s budget all Ben Houchen’s Christmases came at once. With the relocation of a Government super-campus to Darlington, funds for new port infrastructure on Teesside, and Freeport status the area was undoubtedly the big winner. The country was sprinkled with a few small prizes in the name of levelling up – and the eponymous fund will also be scrutinised carefully – but in truth, if this budget is to create the investment drive that is hoped for it will not be these incremental measures that make the largest impact. It will be whether UK business has the confidence to take advantage of the 130% capital allowances that will be on offer in the near term. How business will react is unclear since it is then business who will pay the biggest price in making contributions to address the deficit. The steep rise in corporation tax was the first bitter pill in the Covid financial recovery plan but there will need to be more to follow.”

Nigel Wilcock, Executive Director, Institute of Economic Development

Irwin Mitchell

Claire Petricca Riding Head of Planning and Environment at Irwin Mitchell commented on the Chancellor’s announcements concerning the Environment today.

“It is good to see the Chancellor has used this Budget to pursue the Government’s commitment to the “green agenda” and its 10 point environmental plan.

“The Green Industrial Revolution continues to occupy the Government’s mind – Green Growth with Green Jobs.

“The new green savings account with a green gilt which will fund renewable energy and clean transportation projects could certainly be a game changer. This could lead to much more support for renewable energy, including onshore wind and  hydrogen generators and lead to cleaner transport, more electrical cars and cycling. Along with the Sovereign Green Bond and the new infrastructure bank based in Leeds as well as the desire to be an economic and scientific super power – it has been a budget set for the COP26 and leading that charge to net zero.

“We’ve also got Freeports, simplified planning zones and green initiatives associated with those areas as well as a new carbon offset market. It remains to be seen what the detail of these schemes are.

“If I’m cynical I could say that some of these ideas are really igniting thoughts the Government had a while back under previous administrations and it’s a shame it’s taken so long to get them off the ground. We could be in a very different place if such initiatives had been followed through several years ago.

“That said, it’s important we look forward and overall the Chancellor’s measures concerning the environment are certainly a large green step in the right direction.”


In the comment included below, Steve White, head of digital transformation accounts at Yotta, discusses what this could mean for local governments and the potential opportunities the Bank could bring for their infrastructure investments:

“The Chancellor’s plans for a new Infrastructure Bank are welcome but leave local government unclear about the long-term impact on its own infrastructure plans. The focus for the bank appears to be on supporting private sector infrastructure investment, the approach raises the question of the extent to which local government will have access to the bank’s facilities.

“There is an opportunity here for local authorities to challenge industries and transform the infrastructures underlying them, with innovative technologies fundamental to that. The bank must take a longer-term view that allows it to challenge and catalyse structural change in its approach to infrastructure investment, and use of disruptive technologies, rather than perpetuating the status quo. It mustn’t miss the opportunity to support the momentum towards a low(er) carbon economy and changing expectations around infrastructure and the rise of micromobility.”

Simply Business

Alan Thomas, UK CEO, Simply Business, the UK’s largest provider of SME insurance, comments on the Chancellor’s Budget announcement today:

“At Simply Business, we welcome the lifeline for small businesses in today’s budget. It’s positive news to see small businesses rightfully recognised in the nation’s economic recovery plan, but we should know that many self-employed people will still be left without the support they need to survive, let alone thrive.

“By providing this latest package of SME support measures which total £33 billion, including the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and Business Rates Relief, Mr. Sunak will enable many small businesses to make it beyond the current lockdown restrictions. These measures have primed the UK economy for a positive, if phased, reopening as we move through this year.

“We welcome the decision to extend the furlough scheme through to the end of September. With small businesses accounting for 48% of all UK jobs, this is an essential lifeline for millions up and down the country, and is another show of support to the SMEs who will be key to our collective recovery.

“While today’s announcement will provide millions of SMEs with the needed certainty to confidently plan for the future, it’s essential to recognise that many will still be left without the support that they need. We’d urge the Chancellor to do all he can to support the UK’s diverse range of small businesses as we look to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.”

“SMEs are facing a marathon, not a sprint and with them being so crucial to our collective, long term recovery, we’d urge the Government to keep trying to create better conditions for existing small businesses to prosper, and for new entrepreneurs to start up.”

HLM Architects

Olivia Paine, Project Lead at HLM Architects, said: “The Recovery Loans Scheme and Restart Grants announced in today’s Budget are a welcome relief to retail, leisure and hospitality businesses impacted by the ongoing pandemic. Throughout lockdown, we have come to appreciate and depend on our local high street more, underscoring just how critical they are to the vitality of our communities. While these measures are key for the road to recovery, we need to also be exploring longer term at solutions aimed at unlocking all the potential our towns and cities have to offer and ensuring the impact is lasting.

“This is the motivation behind our #bettertowns roadmap, a collaborative initiative aimed at revitalising our high streets so that they are beautiful places for people to shop, work and enjoy. The tool uses a highly visual, data and evidence-led process to determine short, medium and long term strategies for individual towns, removing barriers to development by listening to the data and clearing the way for decision makers to act in the best interests of their communities. As we rebuild, it is more crucial than ever for us to act in a way that is inclusive, sustainable and strategically impactful, so that future generations are able to enjoy our communities for years to come.”

Physical infrastructure and economic growth is not enough. We need new solutions for sustainable recovery.
Sarah Gillinson, chief executive, Innovation Unit 

“The Chancellor’s Budget today was understandably focused on national economic survival in the short-term and sustainable recovery in the longer term. These are welcome non-negotiables for a country emerging from crisis.

But for a government ostensibly focused on “levelling up” there was little evidence of deepening investment or understanding of what it will really take to improve the lives and life chances of people in places that have had a raw deal over the decades.

Evidence gathered over many years about the success or otherwise of place-based transformation points to the need for change to be grounded in a locally-owned vision that encompasses all aspects of life – from health and education and a secure home to meaningful work and successful relationships.

The government’s actions have been all about physical infrastructure and economic growth. It is not enough.

This change is unbelievably hard and evolves as we learn over 10 years or more. There are scant examples of successful, long-term, place-based transformation that really works for the people who already live there – rather than the people who move in after change has happened.

If the government is serious about “levelling up” or seriously transforming places with and for the people who live there, it should be investing in much more ambitious and holistic innovation in places, and in loud, transparent learning about what emerges. As we said in November last year, 10% of the £4.8bn levelling-up fund should be dedicated to innovation.

We need new solutions, not partial old ones. Trains, roads and enterprise are important – but they are far from being the whole story. Emerging from Covid-19 gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design forward differently. Let’s seize it, as a broad coalition that wants to learn what it really takes to transform places, rather than being stuck in the inadequate models of the past.”

Innovation Unit grows and scales the boldest and best innovations that deliver long-term impact for people, address persistent inequalities and transform the systems that surround them.

Deputy Mayor of Salford

Following today’s budget announcement, Cllr John Merry, Deputy Mayor of Salford and Chair of national network Key Cities told GPSJ:

“It’s important that if we are to ‘level up’ the country that this is done fairly and equitably. The geographical spread of the freeports and towns funding covered many Key Cities and provides a welcome opportunity for the urban areas that contribute to GDP growth across the UK to work together and thrive. Not all cities benefited from today’s Budget, so the Government must continue to work to connect the diverse voices of urban UK if we are to unlock successful devolution and create a productive, balanced economy for all parts of the country.

“Freeports have the potential to fire up international trade and make the UK an attractive investment proposition post-Brexit, but we need to ensure their design and implementation takes into account local priorities whilst also utilising expertise and best practice from across the UK’s cities.”

Representing 25 cities with a broad geographical and political spread, Key Cities works with other cities, towns and organisations across local government and beyond to deliver prosperity, protect the environment and raise standards of living. Key Cities is a diverse, national network covering almost half the UK’s urban areas.

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