Responding to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement, the managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Martin Hathaway, said:
“Off the back of some fantastic developments for our region with two major projects being granted funding on Monday and West Yorkshire being named as one of the next Investment Zones, it was reassuring to see a focus on Levelling Up across the country in today’s Autumn Statement. In particular, the key focuses on areas including life sciences, AI and advanced manufacturing will help to grow the economy, all of which are sectors that already have a strong presence in our region.
“In the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s latest economic survey (Q3 2023), manufacturers employed more than 130,000 people in our region, with significant clusters across chemicals, medical technology, electrical equipment and machinery, so today’s announcements for further funding for these areas will provide a definite boost to productivity here in West Yorkshire.
“However, I was disappointed with the lack of transport planning in today’s statement, particularly after the recent cancellation of the HS2 project. In order to truly back Britain’s growth and ensure that these Investment Zones can achieve their full potential, we need a working, reliable and efficient transport infrastructure across the whole country.
“I do commend the Chancellor for his deliverance on the skills agenda. As a Chamber of Commerce, this is an area that is particularly vital to us, as we are well underway with our work on the Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs), working to ensure that our talent can flourish in the future economy of Yorkshire.
“Mr Hunt’s plans to invest £50m in a pilot scheme aiming to increase the number of apprentices in engineering and other sectors with skills and talent shortages will be a huge boost to those sectors, safeguarding their future and ensuring Britain can drive forward as a powerhouse for growth and success for generations to come.
“The announcement of full expensing becoming permanent will be a welcome one for many across our districts of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, encouraging at home investment towards a brighter future.
“Tax cuts for the self-employed and business rates discounts for hospitality, leisure and retail show that the Chancellor supports British businesses and recognises that some regions are reliant on these sectors to thrive. While it may seem a long time ago, many of these firms are still recovering from Brexit and Covid-19 so having that recognition from central Government will certainly boost confidence here in Yorkshire.”