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Chancellor announces boost for businesses in Autumn Statement

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“Come here, invest here, Britain is open for business” and “It pays to work” were the main calls from chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement speech today.

In his 50 minute-statement, which ended at 1.30pm, Osborne announced a further package of tax measures that support growth, reward work, help with the cost of living and ensure those with the most contribute the most to the fiscal consolidation.

He also announced more investment in regional growth funds, which will create half a million new jobs in UK cities, in response to Lord Heseltine’s review of economic growth.

Osborne said: "Corporation tax will be cut by a further 1%. From April 2014 it will be 21%. This will be the lowest for any western economy and show Britain is open for business."  In comparison, corporation tax in the United States is 40%, in France 30% and in Germany 29%. 

Osborne also announced an additional £5.5 billion for infrastructure investment. This includes £600 million in Research Council infrastructure and facilities for applied research and development to support the development of innovative technologies and strengthen the UK’s competitive advantage in areas such as big data and synthetic biology.

Later this month prime minister David Cameron will launch the Life Sciences Strategy One Year On document, setting out progress so far on supporting the UK life sciences sector. The Government will also provide £120 million for two additional rounds of the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative to support R&D, skills training and capital investment to help UK supply chains achieve world-class standards and encourage major new suppliers to locate in the UK.

Richard Abadie, global head of infrastructure at PwC, welcomed this news, saying: “New investment contributes to economic growth and job creation.”

Chief executive, recruitment and employment confederation, Kevin Green said: "We've been calling for investment in infrastructure, railways, school buildings that is the one guaranteed way to achieve growth in the economy.

"However, because of the continued deficit plan unemployment will remain stubbornly high."

However,  Ian Brinkley, director of The Work Foundation, said: “The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement was a mix of the welcome, the populist and the wasteful. Ultimately however, it was another missed opportunity to make a real difference to the UK’s economic prospects.

“The capital spending package was very welcome, especially increases for science and higher education. However, the cuts in fuel duty were populist and without economic merit. Similarly, the corporation tax cuts and higher capital investment allowances were wasteful and ineffective.

“Instead, the Chancellor could easily have doubled the capital investment package and made this an Autumn Statement to remember.”

The Government is also boosting skills development in the creative industries. The co-investment between industry and Government will have a total worth of £12m and will provide entry and professional level training for over 3,300 individuals working in film, TV, animation and video games. This boost to skills will support these sectors, key to UK economy, in their ambitious plans for growth.

Stewart Till, chair of Creative Skillset and CEO of Sonar Entertainment said: “Through the Treasury consultation on tax relief our industries have identified the UK’s skills and talent as one of the principal drivers of growth and of our global reputation.  We applaud the Government for taking this issue forward.  This much needed and welcome injection of one-off co-investment will help incentivise the delivery of training to develop skills that will support the growth in jobs that the tax reliefs will bring.  We are delighted that Creative Skillset will be progressing this crucial initiative.”