Steve Bratt, ECA group CEO has commented on the Autumn Statement: “There were some welcome plans laid out in the Autumn Statement which should benefit business and industry for many years to come. I say this a little guardedly, given the fact that we are facing a General Election next May. However, I would urge whichever party ends up at the helm to make good on those promises which help drive the economy forward.
“The pledges in the Autumn Statement that are particularly relevant for ECA members are homebuilding and planning, NI contributions for apprentices and investment in infrastructure. George Osborne’s pledges on homebuilding and planning will create long-term jobs and opportunities for the planning and construction sectors and the industries they support. Homebuilding has long been the fulcrum of the construction industry and this boost will provide a much needed lift for a key sector at a vital time.
“The abolition of employer National Insurance contributions for those businesses employing people under the age of 21 from April 2015 and apprentices aged under 25 from April 2016 is welcome. It will lessen the financial burden on employers who train apprentices in our industry and across the economy and we hope it will continue regardless of who wins next year’s General Election. Today’s politicians seem very aware of the importance of apprenticeships to young people, employers, and the economy and hopefully the policy agenda in the future will reflect this and support the role of apprenticeships in driving forward UK Plc.
“The £15bn commitment to invest in infrastructure will benefit business and leisure travellers and all those involved in delivering the work. We have been saying for years that kick-starting shovel-ready construction projects can only benefit the sector – and the wider economy – in the long run. The investment announced yesterday will be felt across the entire economy when its benefits – job creation, training and an increase in the availability of apprenticeship places – kick in.
“We’re disappointed, however, that there was no promise of further public investment in the country’s energy infrastructure, specifically the National Grid and power stations across the UK. Despite the introduction of the Electricity Market Reform our current set up badly needs investment now if it is going to be able to cope with demand this winter and in the future.”