James Heappey Burnham-On-Sea MP

Burnham-On-Sea MP James Heappey has welcomed the Spring budget, which was set out on Wednesday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling it “packed with support” for the industries and residents hardest hit by the Covid pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that a raft of support measures would be extended as the UK eases out of the national lockdown, as well as billions of pounds of support for specific sectors, including hospitality and tourism.

Newly-launched restart grants will help businesses alongside the roadmap announced by the Prime Minister last week, with non-essential retail – which is one of the first sectors set to open – receiving grants of up to £6,000.

Hospitality and leisure businesses, including hairdressers and gyms, which are set to open later, will receive grants of up to £18,000.

Mr Heappey says he met with members of the Federation of Small Businesses last week, who made it clear that the impact of the lost revenue during lockdown was one of their biggest concerns.

It was also announced the 100% business rates holiday will continue until June, as well as the 5 per cent reduced rate of VAT which will continue until September.

Mr Heappey says: “Here in Somerset, there has been a huge hole left by the lack of tourism and visitors to this great county and I know how difficult it has been for businesses across the patch.”

“I am sure they will feel much more positive with a roadmap out of lockdown, that they will be able to  welcome a summer trade and, of course, the extension of furlough, self-employed grants, restart grants, and more investment in the culture sector will result in better financial certainty.”

“But I know from my constituency meetings that lost revenue during the lockdown was a big issue for a number of sectors, including the likes of beauty and hairdressing, so I am pleased they will be supported before they reopen.”

“It is right that support is targeted and I particularly welcome the business rates holiday extension and extension to VAT reduction, which has also been welcomed by industry experts.”

“While we know there are still tough days ahead, the OBR has given us reasons for optimism with a lower rate of unemployment predicted than first thought and growth set to increase for the next few years to get us back to pre-pandemic levels, six months earlier than first predicted.”

“I hope the announcements have given my constituents cause for hope that there will be good progress over the next few months, both with heading back to normality through a world-beating vaccination programme and being able to start thriving again business wise.”

In other reaction to the budget, Ben Rhodes, CBI South West Deputy Director, gave a mixed reaction: “This Budget succeeds strongly in protecting the economy now and kickstarting recovery. It leaves open the question of UK competitiveness long term.”

“The Chancellor has gone above and beyond to protect UK businesses and people’s livelihoods through the crisis and get firms spending.”

“Firms across the South West will be relieved to receive support to finish the job and get through the coming months. The Budget also has a clear eye to the future; to ensure finances are sustainable, while building confidence and investment in a lasting recovery.”

“Innovative ideas to boost the UK economy and strengthen our international trading links are vital to accelerating recovery.”

“The Chancellor has taken a welcome, broad view on how to stimulate growth from the new Infrastructure Bank, to Help to Grow and incentives to take on apprentices.”

“The super deduction should be a real catalyst for firms to greenlight investment decisions. The boldness of the Chancellor on this measure is to be admired.”

“But moving Corporation Tax to 25% in one leap will cause a sharp intake of breath for many South West businesses and sends a worrying signal to those planning to invest in the UK.”

“The government must now have a laser-like focus on the UK’s competitive position in the round, including fundamental reform of the unfair Business Rates system. The UK must remain attractive for every type of business, from innovative, high-growth UK homegrown firms to the global firms investing in the UK. We look forward to working with the government to achieve this.”

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