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Media comment: A Budget for a sustainable today and an optimistic tomorrow

3 March 2021

The Chancellor has addressed the most pressing and immediate risks for the business sector in light of the incredibly challenging times.

A year of disruption and extensive restrictions has taken its toll on the business community and now that the sector has some certainty, it can start to move forward and level back up.

It’s good to see the Chancellor focus on investment and building long-term skills and improving productivity for the business sector bringing real benefits to people and businesses. We especially welcome his pledge to double the apprentice levy for businesses to three thousand pounds for each adult and his £126m package to boost traineeships. The Chancellor has clearly listened to the industry and responded with decisive action. 
We’re pleased to see the Chancellor’s measures on the short-term continuation of grants and loans for SMEs and the wider business community, as well as the extension of the business holiday rates until the end of June. We also believe that the temporary relief on expenditure on plant and machinery, including the 130 per cent super-deduction for main-rate assets, will be highly beneficial to stimulate business investment and growth. 

However, the Chancellor has missed an opportunity to secure and stimulate employment by not freezing employer’s National Insurance Contributions. Such a measure would have helped bolster new job creation. 

In addition, we believe that the Chancellor should have included mandatory training as part of the income support scheme. The government has consistently missed this opportunity in previous announcements. Those receiving furlough won’t all return to their pre-pandemic jobs and action must be taken to ensure that they have the necessary skills to launch their new careers. 

Overall, this Budget is an opportunity for businesses across all parts of the country to focus on levelling-up and tackling the challenges of today as well as building lasting recovery for tomorrow.

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA
Chief Executive — Management Accounting
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants