Birmingham business leaders have welcomed Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement in the wake of pleas by the Chambers of Commerce for a boost to UK investment.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) CEO Henrietta Brealey said several of the measures would ‘land well’ with firms battling cost pressures following a turbulent period.

The key points in the statement were:

  • National insurance will be reduced to 10 per cent from 12 per cent
  • Class 2 National Insurance paid by self-employed to be abolished and Class 4 National Insurance to be reduced by one percentage point to eight per cent.
  • Universal Credit and disability benefits to increase by 6.7 per cent, in line with September's inflation rate
  • State pension to be increased to 8.6 per cent from April 2024 to £221.20 a week
  • An additional £4.5bn of support to the manufacturing sector between 2025 and 2030
  • Additional £500m funding for UK artificial intelligence
  • Three further investment zones in the West Midlands, East Midlands and Greater Manchester

GBCC CEO Henrietta Brealey (pic) said: “Despite many of the measures heavily trailed in advance, there were a number of announcements in today’s Autumn Statement which will land well with the business community as we emerge from a turbulent period in our recent history.

“It was pleasing to see the Chancellor back a number of our calls in a bid to drive investment and reduce cost pressures – namely the move towards full expensing, restructuring of pension funds, reforming the R&D tax reliefs system and extending business rate relief for hospitality and retail firms.

“It was also reassuring to see the Chancellor commit to plans to simplify the planning process in order to speed up the delivery of infrastructure projects.

“Given the current labour market pressures, additional funding for Apprenticeships is also welcome, however, offering businesses more flexibility on how they spend their levy funding would have made the measure even more effective.

“In particular, the confirmation of the West Midlands Investment Zone is a major boost for the region, creating thousands of jobs for local people and offers a vital opportunity to leverage private sector investment.”

GBCC also sending a full response on the Autumn Statement.