Coastal West Sussex leaders have cautiously welcomed today’s 2017 budget from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Among the headline announcements from Phillip Hammond today were:
  • Growth forecast for 2017 downgraded from 2% to 1.5%;
  • Another 600,000 people forecast to be in work by 2022;
  • VAT threshold for small business to remain at £85,000 for two years;
  • Rises in business rates to be pegged to CPI measure of inflation, not RPI;
  • £500m for 5G mobile networks, fibre broadband and artificial intelligence;
  • £540m to support the growth of electric cars, including more charging points;
  • A further £2.3bn allocated for investment in research and development;
  • Fuel duty for petrol and diesel frozen for another year;
  • £44bn in government support, including loan guarantees, to boost construction skills
Caroline Wood, Director of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership Board, which represents the public and private sector, said: “As always with budgets the devil is in the detail. 
“While growth forecasts are down across the UK, on first viewing, there are measures which, on paper, will support the economic development of West Sussex area in the coming years.

“The pledge to embark on the biggest housebuilding scheme since the 1970s will boost all sectors, up-skilling construction workers as well as providing affordable places for thousands of people to live but this needs to be balanced along the coast with providing space for business so those same people can work.
“We also welcome the pledge to improve the teaching of computer science and maths will go a long way to providing the skilled workforce for our world-leading STEM industries which are developing so rapidly across our area.

“The additional funding to boost the digital and tech sector while keeping the VAT threshold at £85,000 is a boon for those firms that are the lifeblood for our area.
“All of these things though are announced under the big cloud of uncertainty of what Brexit will deliver.”