Plenty of positives amid the gloom

With business leaders now getting to grips with the measures set out in this week’s Autumn Statement, Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, assesses what Osborne’s announcements mean for the region.

Small and medium-sized enterprises make up over 99% of the Leeds City Region’s business population, so I welcome the support announced today to boost their productivity, particularly the confirmation of support for exports, innovation and business rates relief.

Having secured the largest settlement of Growth Deal funding earlier this year, we are committed to maximising all opportunities to deliver our Strategic Economic Plan in full and will look to secure a substantial sum from the additional £1billion announced today for a further round of Growth Deals.

A better transport network is central to our plans for growth so we welcome the extra investment in our road network and the opportunity to work with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to improve road and rail links to the Leeds Bradford International Airport.

It is positive to see that employers will no longer pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25. Over 1,000 businesses have been supported to take on an apprentice as a result of our Apprenticeship Hubs programme and I hope that more firms in our region will be encouraged to recruit young people into jobs where they simultaneously earn and learn as a result.

As ever, the devil is in the detail and crucially the implementation. I look forward to seeing the outcome of ongoing discussions with government and the impact this will have on unlocking the growth potential of our powerful City Region to both Northern and national advantage.