Business leaders from across the West Midlands react to Autumn Budget 2017

Karl Edge, KPMG, Midlands Regional Chairman, commented: 

“The Midlands got a well-deserved piece of the pie in today’s Budget. A real boon for the region is the allocation of £250m for the West Midlands from the £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund, alongside confirmation of a second devolution deal. You only have to venture out into our cities and towns to see rapid transformation taking place, so it’s encouraging to see that the Government recognises the region’s importance.

“With a rich automotive heritage and strong manufacturing background, the Midlands is well placed to lead on an automotive upturn in this Budget. I’m also pleased to see that provisions are being made for rail improvements in the Midlands, as congestion and capacity is still very much an issue, so I expect that this will add to the positive economic impact we expect HS2 to bring.

“The Chancellor seems to be trying to make life easier for young people, notably with the measures around stamp duty, railcards and the housing pilot, and these are particularly key for the West Midlands, with Birmingham being the youngest city in Europe*.

“Overall, the measures announced today will help us make strides towards improving and addressing local productivity, which is ever crucial as we prepare to leave the EU. However, investments alone aren’t enough to give the region the boost it needs, so as members of the business and local community, we must continue to shout about our success and work together to be the best we can be.”

Ian Cornock, Lead Director, JLL Midlands, said:

“It’s clear Andy Street and Midlands Engine is firmly on the radar with the government and in tune with its thinking, with talk of a technological revolution, increasing productivity and skills, the need to address air pollution and homelessness all within the budget.

 “The £1.7 billion Transforming Cities fund is a welcome investment  in getting what the whole of ‘the UK firing on all cylinders’, with further support for HS2 and infrastructure which is a major driver for investors, both in the UK and overseas.

 “To position Britain at the forefront of the technological revolution will help drive innovation and growth in all industries, no more so than the real estate industry with both the CBI and RICS reporting on advances in AI and smart technology.”

Gordon Wilson, CEO, Advanced, said:

“We welcome the confident Budget that the chancellor delivered today to ensure Britain builds an economy fit for the future. Examples such as boosting investment into education including computer science and demonstrating further movement with research and development to boost digital skills with an investment of £30m (in conjunction with the CBI and the TUC) for long distant learning courses are promising. In addition, we were pleased to see evidence of further real commitment to the regions, with the second devolution deal announced in the West Midlands with local mayor Andy Street. He said it would be all about innovation and there were encouraging signs to bring alive the principles behind the Government’s Industrial Strategy – a fairer Britain with greater opportunity for all.”

Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, commented:

“Innovation and productivity have rightly been recognised by the Government as critical factors in strengthening the economy. The UK’s productivity challenge risks becoming a straitjacket to economic growth, and leaving areas like Greater Birmingham and Solihull behind our international competitors.

National measures such as the extension of the National Productivity Investment Fund, an increase in investment into research and development, and an increase in the main R&D tax credit have the potential to improve the innovation performance of Greater Birmingham’s economy.

Greater Birmingham employs 48,000 people in advanced engineering – more than any other LEP area – and has a global reputation for R&D. As a result, we will be working closely with partners to ensure this region is at the front of the queue for funding into areas such as R&D and artificial intelligence, to increase the number of highly-skilled jobs here. As part of this, we welcome the Government’s investment into skills shortages across the construction industry, and digital skills.

The movement of people, products and services underlies economic growth, so the £1.7 billion Transforming Cities fund to reduce congestion and boost connectivity, with £250 million flowing directly to the West Midlands, will help the many companies that rely on Greater Birmingham’s central location and busy transport networks.

We hope to see more measures aimed at growing our local and national economy announced in the Industrial Strategy next week.”

Tim Wooldridge, Managing Director, IM Properties said.

“It was good to hear the Chancellor talk about Britain being at the forefront of a technological revolution. We’re very conscious of the need to innovate in real estate and there’s been much talk of smart technology, AI and new forms of sustainable energy driving forward the industry.

“IM Properties was the first to develop an Electricity Cost Neutral Building for the logisitics sector, however this is only the tip of the iceberg and soon we will be seeing this form of sustainable battery power in our homes and offices.

“Investment in further research and development of new technologies can only be a major benefit to the UK and businesses within it.”

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