Pressure groups praise Osborne for ‘sticking to guns’

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BUSINESS pressure groups have praised Chancellor George Osborne for “sticking to his guns” and proceeding with the Government’s controversial deficit reduction plan.

They have also welcomed plans to encourage investment in small businesses during a period when many firms are fighting for survival.

Andrew Palmer, CBI director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said yesterday: “This Autumn Statement works with the realities of today and provides an imaginative framework for UK businesses as it strives to secure growth and jobs. This is ‘Plan A plus’ in all but name. The downgraded forecasts and outlook were no surprise, but the eurozone crisis is still hanging over us.

“The Government’s dogged commitment to budget deficit reduction remains the only way to maintain the UK’s triple A credit rating and low interest rates on international money markets.

“We particularly welcome the new emphasis on capital spending and the measures to leverage private sector investment on infrastructure for roads and energy.

“Equally important for jobs and growth is the recognition that the UK’s energy-intensive users need help as a result of the unilateral increases in manufacturing energy costs from the carbon floor price and electricity market reform.”

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: “The Chancellor stuck to his guns today, and that was the right thing to do.

“No-one is pretending that it’s going to be easy or painless, but there’s no credible alternative to the deficit reduction plan.”

Mr Walker said the IoD wanted Plan A with more infrastructure spending and it had got that.

He believed that business confidence would be boosted by the Autumn Statement.

Mr Walker said: “The introduction of credit easing will be welcomed by businesses up and down the country.

“This is an imaginative scheme which should helpfully reduce the cost of capital for companies. It also provides an incentive for banks to increase lending before the scheme becomes operational because their subsequent allocation will be determined by their existing loan book.”

Gordon Millward, the Yorkshire regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Taken as a package, the announcements in the Autumn Statement address many of the concerns raised by small businesses and are therefore to be welcomed.

“The key now is for the Government to be consistent and set to the task of translating these policy intentions into tangible actions on the ground.

“Targeting the rising cost of overheads is imperative to help firms weather the economic storm that could be heading our way, so measures to limit the rise in fuel prices and business rates are very welcome.”