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Spring 2017 budget reaction

Thursday 9 March 2017

Dr Gordon Fletcher, Business and Retail expert from the University of Salford Business School, comments on the Spring budget, which was delivered by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Dr Fletcher said: “The last Spring budget offers few surprises. The Prime Minister and Chancellor had both shared enough of the detail of the budget to effectively soften the blow.

“It is perhaps an obvious statement but this budget reflects some form of acknowledgement by the Government that there is very little margin in the accounts. Many of the key messages from the budget are relatively small in their pound value but also reflect the inherent difficulty of maintaining internal consistency.

“The budget also hints at the challenge of planning for the future while also maintaining current infrastructure. In the budget there is both a commitment to building new roads and alleviating existing congestion while also supporting driverless technologies and autonomous vehicles. Which of these issues require priority is not clear in the budget.

“The tension between digital and high street retailer is also accentuated in the budget. With an increase in business rates, purely online retailers will effectively benefit from operating in a remote warehouse while retailers on the high street will struggle with further cost against declining incomes.

“The increase in national insurance rates for the self-employed appears to be a potential disincentive to entrepreneurial activities. This rates rise is a contradiction with the acknowledgement that technical education requires increased support.

“However, the introduction of T-Levels will be by no means be a guaranteed solution to this skills shortage. A number of previous budgets have attempted to introduce new awards and delivery mechanism with minimal success against our underlying cultural preference for A-Levels.”

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Sam Wood

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