Budget 2020: Industry reacts to new Government investment

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

Today the chancellor Rishi Sunak set out his budget, announcing measures including an increase in overall R&D investment to £22 billion a year by 2024-25, and increasing the rate of R&D Expenditure Credit from 12% to 13%.

Today the chancellor Rishi Sunak set out his budget, announcing measures including an increase in overall R&D investment to £22 billion a year by 2024-25, and increasing the rate of R&D Expenditure Credit from 12% to 13%.

Government investment in future technology will include investment of £900 million to support UK businesses in developing high-potential technologies, including through the National Space Strategy and space innovation fund, and £800 million in a new 'blue skies' research agency.

For defence, the budget announced a £1 billion facility for UK Export Finance to support overseas buyers of UK defence and security goods and services, as well as additional investment of £100 million in defence R&D, developing capabilities in response to threats facing the UK, including funding for cutting-edge technology in aviation and space propulsion.

In skills funding, there is support for STEM teaching, including capital investment for up to eight new institutes of technology.

ADS chief executive Paul Everitt said: “Today’s Budget showed welcome intent from the Government to make a substantial increase in R&D investment that supports our industries in developing and manufacturing advanced new technologies in the UK.

“We asked the Treasury to boost R&D funding in the space sector and I am pleased to see the Chancellor announce investment in the National Space Strategy and space innovation fund, as well as £100m in defence sector R&D.

“We look forward to the Government announcing detailed spending plans in July and hope to see long-term commitment to the Aerospace Technology Institute. Joint investment by Government and industry boosts our long-term competitiveness and holds the key to delivering long-term growth in all nations and regions of the UK.”

A budget for resilience today, and ambition tomorrow?

Reacting to the announced budget, Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, commented: “In deeply challenging times the Chancellor has worked against the clock to deliver two Budgets in one: a first for national resilience today and a second for economic ambition tomorrow. It’s a bold Budget at scale, coordinated with the Bank of England, which will help people and business through tough times.

“As the UK responds to the immediate challenge, people are the first priority. So the measures to expand and ease access to sick pay and benefits are vital to protect people’s health and livelihoods.

“The Chancellor’s actions on business rates, emergency funds and loans will help ensure firms can weather the storm, especially smaller firms. Larger firms may also need support as the situation develops.

“Covid19 will bring new challenges daily which will need to be resolved, at speed. “Today’s impressive economic response should now evolve with business insight to become as agile as our approach to public health.

“While the response to Covid19 is urgent, it is very good to see this Budget’s focus on innovation and infrastructure. The Chancellor has listened to many calls from CBI members, with decisive action on vital long-term issues.

“The significant uplift in R&D funding, creation of a UK version of ARPA, a fundamental review of business rates and spending promises on infrastructure will all bring real benefits to people, business and communities.

“The Chancellor has set out some powerful incentives to get businesses investing, increasing the R&D tax credit and the Structures and Buildings Allowance. The £5bn of new export loans will encourage the best of UK business to look to new global markets.

“The next few months will bring opportunities for the Government to make major decisions that they have understandably had to put to one side today. Some gaps still need to be filled in around skills, energy efficiency and powering the UK’s low carbon future.

“Overall, today’s Budget is a powerful signal to firms at home and abroad that the UK can and will manage the immediate challenges and long-term opportunities in parallel.”

Shoring up confidence

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, the manufacturer’s organisation, commented: “This was a welcome realistic and pragmatic statement which recognises the unparalleled times we are living in. Business understands that dealing with the impact of the coronavirus on individuals and the economy was always going to be the Chancellor’s priority and he has our full support in doing whatever is necessary to protect the public and the economy at such a difficult time.

“Aside from the overwhelming immediate priority the Chancellor has also recognised the need to turbocharge investment in long term measures which will boost the productive potential of the economy and support green growth. For too long the UK’s infrastructure outside the South East has played second fiddle and industry will welcome the resources devoted to improving links across the UK, in particular the strategic road network.

“In a world which is rapidly becoming digital the UK needs to stay at the forefront of research and innovation. Today’s measures to boost R&D will be applauded by industry and will help the UK lead in the technologies of the future.”

Specific measures to help companies with the coronavirus

Mr Phipson said: “Today’s measures will help shore up confidence in the short term and industry will be reassured that the Government will do whatever it takes to keep the economy moving. If the situation worsens however, we need to think the unthinkable and look at ways in which employers, government and Trade Unions could co-operate on measures such as short term working patterns to keep key skills and grants or other financial support for firms who lose orders. Industry stands ready to work with Government and the Trade Unions to this end.”

Support for innovation and green growth

Tim Figures, director of technology for sustainability & innovation at Make UK said: “Industry will be pleased to see the Government’s support for innovation and green growth although we’ll only know full details later in the year. It’s vital that the Government delivers increased support for SME-focused schemes, such as Made Smarter, to ensure that companies of all sizes and in all locations can benefit from its levelling up agenda.”

Measures to boost further education

Mr Thomas said: “Extra capital funding for the entire FE college estate is both welcome and needed. With T-levels around the corner for manufacturers, funding for new capital equipment which is often a roadblock to greater technical training cannot come too soon. The announcement of more funding for maths teachers for 16-19 year olds will generate a better equipped workforce with the STEM skills to address the skills shortage that manufacturers face.”

Financial savings for manufacturers

Geraldine Bolton, CEO of the Confederation of British Metalforming, added: “There were a lot of headline announcements in today’s budget, but one significant move for manufacturers that may have been missed is the extension of the Climate Change Agreement (CCA) scheme to 2025.

“CCA, which we first lobbied for 20 years ago, allows businesses to reduce their Climate Change Levy bill in exchange for meeting targets to improve their energy efficiency and was due to close in 2023. Today’s extension gives companies another two years under this scheme and that could well equate to £4 million of savings for CBM members every year.

“This is not just about financial savings, but it also gives manufacturers more time to consider innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprints without the burden of having to pay more taxes.”

ADS Group www.adsgroup.org.uk

Make UK www.makeuk.org

CBI www.cbi.org.uk


ADS Group

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