It was interesting to hear the reaction from business representatives to the Chancellors’ Autumn Statement announced a few weeks ago.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the spending on infrastructure, the increased housebuilding and support for energy-intensive sectors including advanced manufacturing. The CBI did however feel there was a ‘sting in the tail’, despite continued work on deficit reduction, and industrial strategy and an emphasis on nurturing a vibrant business community, the size and scope of the Apprenticeship Levy caused concern. This concern being echoed by the Institute of Directors (IoD), who described the new levy as “.. a new payroll tax”. At 0.5% of payroll, the IoD claim it will be a big new cost for many companies including medium-sized ones.
Infrastructure investment is something that the business community across the UK has been asking for a long time, and in particular John Longworth (Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce) was ‘delighted’ businesses were now being listened to on infrastructure matters. Infrastructure investment is of particular importance to Warrington given its proximity to the U.K.’s main motorway and rail networks, a position which has undoubtedly been part of the town’s economic success story. The ‘Pinchpoint’ project to help alleviate congestion in Birchwood is nearing completion, consultation is underway (until 11 January) regarding the Centre Park Link project and, later this month, there will be announcements regarding consultation on Junction 8 improvements on the M62. Warrington & Co continues to work closely with Warrington Borough Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership to ensure government funding is available to help develop the towns strategic infrastructure.
An undoubted success of the work done by Warrington & Co, in conjunction with partners, was the creation and designation of Birchwood as an Enterprise Zone. This is great news. It’s the first ever Enterprise Zone in Warrington and was announced as a part of the Cheshire Science Corridor in the Chancellor’s Statement. It’s recognition of the strategic importance of the Birchwood/Warrington East area which employs over 27,000 people, 20% of whom are employed in the nuclear industry.
Finally, I wish all businesses, large and small in Warrington a healthy and prosperous Happy Christmas and New Year.