Budget statement welcomed by the trade

Budget statement welcomed by the trade

The meat industry has broadly welcomed Rishi Sunak’s plans for business, following the Chancellor’s Budget announcement this week.

Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association, told Meat Management: “Given the huge amount of damage the economy has suffered due to coronavirus, this seems to be a benign budget designed to give the economy the chance to recover. Extension of the job retention scheme will be welcomed, as will the lower VAT rates for the hospitality sector and the business rate relief.

“At this stage, with little room to manoeuvre in the crisis, this looks to be a logical, thought-out approach, but the disparity over Statutory Sick pay remains. However, the support for apprenticeships and traineeships in England will hopefully give many companies in our sector the assistance they need to recruit younger people.

“Assuming the recovery continues and looking further forward the Government needs to start addressing the country’s competitiveness especially in the light of the future increases in corporation tax. We need to look at how we can reduce regulatory cost in the food sector. Importing and exporting costs are just one example that will dampen the chances of a sustained recovery. We need to urgently review these burdens and develop better, more efficient systems that utilise the modern technology available.”

“The support for apprenticeships and traineeships in England will hopefully give many companies in our sector the assistance they need to recruit younger people.”

Corinne Stuart, chief executive of National Craft Butchers, said: “It is disappointing that the Chancellor has chosen to increase Corporation tax at a time when we need to get businesses back on their feet and people back into employment.

“This move disincentivises the entrepreneur and targets the ambitious small business owner and we’ll have to see what the super deduction for investment actually means in practice.

“The freeze in fuel duty is good news for National Craft Butchers members who have gone online during the pandemic and continue to provide valuable doorstep delivery services to their local communities. Restart grants are welcome news for the rest of the high street but as always, the devil will be in the detail and most will be facing significant losses as a result of lockdown.”

Provision Trade Federation‘s director general, Angela Coleshill, said: “Food businesses up and down the country will broadly welcome the Chancellor’s budget announcements. Those hardest hit by the impacts of Covid-19, especially in the hospitality and foodservice sectors, will take much comfort from measures such as the extension of the furlough scheme and the new Restart Grant scheme, though these will not directly compensate for the losses already suffered by their suppliers.

“Looking further ahead – and as the industry adjusts to new trading relationships in highly competitive global markets – support for recovery through investment and skills development will be vital to our success. Ensuring a pipeline of future talent through apprenticeship programmes and other skills support will be particularly important for SMEs whose local infrastructure and training provision may not have been able to meet their needs.”

Head of policy at AIMS, Norman Bagley, said: “The widely trailed extension to furlough will be welcomed by many AIMS catering butcher members who have seen their sales drop through the floor due to the forced closure of their customer base. In addition, the recovery loan scheme should help our members and their customers rebuild after significant economic shock. But for me there were two further very welcome announcements, the ‘Super-Deduction’ and ‘Help to Grow’.

“The freeze in fuel duty is good news for National Craft Butchers members who have gone online during the pandemic and continue to provide valuable doorstep delivery services to their local communities.”

“We hope that members who fit the Super-deduction qualifying criteria will take the opportunity to make new capital expenditure in plant and machinery in order to keep their business well equipped and operating efficiently.

“The pandemic has seen a shift in consumer behaviour and a huge uplift in online shopping. Many of our members have adapted to this form of selling and no-doubt will maintain this as the economy and their business recover. For this reason I particularly welcome the ‘Help to Grow, Digital’ support and I join the Chancellor in urging businesses to register.” 

Wider food sector

Speaking for the wider food and drink industry, Food and Drink Federation chief executive, Ian Wright CBE, said: “Food and drink manufacturers will welcome this Budget. The Chancellor’s announcement struck the right balance between supporting recovery and acknowledging the difficult choices that have to be made to restore the country’s finances.

“Food and drink businesses supplying the hospitality and food service sectors will welcome the extension of the furlough scheme. However, we have concerns that support tapers too soon and should be kept under review.

“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, we welcome the news that the Bank of England and the Chancellor are doubling incentive payments for businesses hiring apprenticeships. However, increased flexibility of the apprenticeship levy would enable the system to work for the wider food and drink supply chain, particularly SMEs, and must be considered in relation to any new incentives.

“The Chancellor rightly expressed his firm intention not to increase the cost of living and has recognised the importance of encouraging investment as the key driver of recovery. He should therefore review proposed regulatory changes that will increase food prices.”

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