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The North East region gives their reaction on Philip Hammond's Spring Statement.
Rebecca Wayman

North East businesses react to Hammond’s Spring Statement 2019

Philip Hammond delivered his Spring Statement for 2019 to the House of Commons today (March 13).

Although Hammond declared that the “OBR expects Britain to grow at 1.2 per cent this year… faster than Germany, and at 1.4 per cent in 2020”, there are still major pressures on the Chancellor to deliver on such promises.

With Brexit happening in less than three weeks, it was obviously one of the main topics to be discussed. However, Hammond made other significant claims that cannot be ignored - but how confident is the UK public with what he had to say?

Here, Bdaily gets the North East’s viewpoint.

Sandra Thompson, EY

Sandra Thompson is the Newcastle managing partner for EY. She said: “Even in his final social media tweet before delivering the Spring Statement, the Chancellor reminded us that this would not be a major fiscal event - and it certainly wasn’t.

“It was, in fact, more a plea from government to parliament to reach consensus and to ensure that the UK does not leave Europe with no deal.

“Beginning, middle and end of his 30-minute speech, the Chancellor reminded us that all plans were ‘subject to a Brexit deal being agreed’.

“He even dangled the carrot of a ‘deal dividend’ to the UK economy - both fiscal and in terms of the impact of improved business confidence.

“It is certainly true that today’s Spring Statement will not be at the forefront of business’ minds as much as previous years and it is right that the focus is on ensuring the certainty and stability that businesses need to make investment decisions and to grow.

“One important announcement for business is the government’s recognition of the impact that late payment can have on small businesses and that audit committees will be required to review payment practices and report on them in their annual accounts.

“Given the circumstances, I was heartened to hear the Chancellor still find room to confirm the government’s commitment to Northern Power Rail, which is so important to the continued success of the Northern economy.”

Jonathan Rudge, Bradley Hall

Jonathan Rudge is the head of land, development and new homes at Bradley Hall in Newcastle.

He said: “Today’s Spring Statement contained a number of announcements on further investment in the UK’s housing market and the continued drive towards 300,000 new homes per annum by the mid-2020s.

“This investment focus must clearly been seen positively albeit initial details do indicate an overwhelming focus on London and the South East.

“For the North East though additional funding to the Housing Infrastructure Fund should give opportunity to unlock some of the region’s strategy brownfield development sites.

“Additional funding for the Housing Growth Partnership, which is geared towards supporting smaller house builders, will also give a boost to the many developers looking to expand in our region.”

Jonathan Walker, North East England Chamber of Commerce

Jonathan Walker is the assistant director of policy at North East England Chamber of Commerce. He commented: “Today’s Spring Statement was a slightly surreal event, with the complete lack of certainty over Brexit rendering any growth forecasts meaningless.

“This uncertainty is sapping business confidence and affecting investment. Government must listen to the valid concerns of business and secure a relationship with the EU that protects our firms’ ability to trade with our biggest market.

“Elsewhere, the Statement did provide some welcome news for our region. Securing funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal should help to stimulate and sustain economic activity across some of our most rural, yet important communities.”

Richard Rafique, Bradley Hall

Richard Rafique is Bradley Hall’s director and head of professional services.

He added: “The economic outlook for the country as a whole has predictably darkened and ‘uncertainty’ continues to be the buzzword of the moment.

“Despite this negativity, pressures and economic uncertainty, the North East is resilient and, as history has shown, our region is always able to continue and thrive.

“As a commercial property agency in the North East, we have experienced no signs of a slowdown in recent activity. Last year, we completed more commercial property deals than ever - which supports that the market is still active in the region.

“From micro business to large organisations, our regional economy is marching on, businesses are doing well and thanks to hard work and perseverance new and exciting developments are continuing to emerge across the North East.”

Joe Carey, Active Chartered Financial Planners

Joe Carey, an independent financial adviser at Active Chartered Financial Planners, said: “The Chancellor has been very clear in his budget that the impact of a no-deal Brexit would be on the economy, suggesting it would be smaller and weaker in the future.

“This makes it a turbulent time for those working in the financial sector, as clients are understandably concerned about making investments when there is such uncertainty.

“We must hope that a deal is reached quickly, so that people can start to focus on investment again, without the current Brexit fear.”

Richard Hogg, Jackson Hogg Recruitment

Richard Hogg, Jackson Hogg Recruitment’s managing director, said: “I was pleased to hear that the OBR has forecast that employment will continue to grow year-on-year, and that by 2023 we will see an increase of a further 600,000 jobs.

“It is also heartening that unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1975. The Chancellor discussed how wages are increasing year on year, meaning more take home pay, which we are certainly seeing across the engineering, manufacturing and technology sectors.

“Firms in the North East are now able to offer more competitive salaries paired with a lower cost of living, attracting a significant level of talent to the area, specifically graduates, who are more sensitive to changes in disposable income.”

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