Budget has ‘listened’ to high street, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Trade says

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The Chancellor has listened to the concerns of the high street in this year’s Budget, according to Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Trade.

The chamber, which covers the Wakefield district, said measures proposed would support growth and address some of the problems facing town centres.

Martin Hathaway, the managing director of the chamber, said: “In difficult circumstances, Chancellor Hammond has produced a Budget to support investment and business growth.

“He has responded directly to the British Chamber of Commerce’s calls for bold incentives to boost business investment, for steps to support high street businesses struggling with business rates, and for measures which cut the cost of apprenticeships for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Philip Hammond has sent important and positive signals to businesses across the UK, many of whom have been wavering on investment and recruitment.

“Crucially, he has avoided major increases to business tax to fund the Government’s spending priorities.”

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Elizabeth Murphy, manager of Wakefield BID, said the proposals could encourage growth and ease some of the burdens traders face.

She said: “The budget clearly acknowledges the challenges high streets face nationally.

“We welcome the business rate reduction, as current levels are an issue that many of our levy payers tell us they struggle with.

“It will relieve some pressure and potentially encourage new business. The £650m to support high streets is also good news. The important next step is to see how this is all rolls out and, importantly, how it benefits Wakefield city centre.”

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Pontefract Civic Society chairman Paul Cartwright said small towns stood to benefit from the Chancellor’s announcement.

He said: “The fact that small and medium sized businesses have been targeted is particularly important and it’s important towns like Pontefract get their fair share.

“The plans will help any town centre business, not just retail, because they all complement each other so it should be particularly beneficial to market towns.”

He said with regard to the government’s flagship rail and Northern Powerhouse schemes it was crucial that any benefits filtered down to smaller towns and were not focused completely on bigger cities.

He said: “Any investment needs to trickle down and not just benefit Leeds and Sheffield.

“People in this town will often work in Leeds but we need to make sure they spend some of their hard-earned cash in Pontefract.”

He said it was important the government followed through with its promises.

He said: “With all announcements like this the devil is in the detail so the more information that becomes available the better.”