THE Chancellor missed an opportunity to help businesses worried about rising rates, firms in Yorkshire have said.
Phillip Hammond delivered his first budget today, including in it some relief for small businesses and pubs about to be hit by business rates increases, but York and North Yorkshire’s Chamber of Commerce’s has branded it a “missed opportunity”.
The chamber’s vice president Bridget Davies said: “Even with the measures announced today, improvement could still be a year away for some.”
Discretionary funds that will let council offer help in their areas should be rolled out quickly, she said, but the “broken system” still needs major reform.
“Tie-ing in business rates to property values is an out-of-date way to fund local services and needs a big overhaul, Ms Davies said.
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy welcomed the £435 million in relief package, saying it was a vital move to make sure businesses do not face “the cliff-edge increases they were fearing.
He added: “I am also pleased that the Chancellor gave the Government’s backing to the pub trade, an industry that is hit especially hard by business rates revaluations due to high rateable values.”
Mr Sturdy also welcomed the £2 billion announced for social care funding, which he said would help reduce pressure on the NHS.
North Yorkshire County Council bosses have previously spoken out about the huge difficulties they face in providing social care across a large rural county - with costs amounting to nearly half their overall budgets.
Yesterday they said that while they would have to look at details to see how the money would help them, they cautiously welcomed the deal.
Mike Padgham, chairman of the Indepedent Care Group, added: “If it is indeed extra new funding then this £2 billion - £1 billion of which is for this coming year - is a welcome move. The important thing is to ensure that it gets to people who are not getting the care they need and to care workers and providers on the front line and doesn’t get lost in NHS and local authority bureaucracy.”
However, York Central’s Labour MP Rachael Maskell said the three years of funding announced by the Chancellor in fact does not even cover what is needed now.
She went on to brand it “astounding” that Mr Hammond had not mentioned the impact of Brexit - “the biggest economic event for a generation” - once in his announcements.
She added: “My hopes that there would be a real solution for business rates were dashed when sticking plaster measures were applied to the failed system. While a cap and rate relief will help businesses, they are taking money with one hand and giving back a proportion with the other.”