Chancellor George Osbourne's autumn statement - what it means for horticulture

The Chancellor's autumn statement brought mixed fortunes for horticultural businesses and organisations across the UK.

Chancellor George Osbourne - image: HM Treasury
Chancellor George Osbourne - image: HM Treasury
George Osbourne promised a delay in a 3p rise in fuel duty due to come into effect in January, a £30billion 10-year programme of public works mainly funded by investments from British pension funds, and 40bn of loans for small businesses.

Planning consultant Malcolm Scott said: "The £30bn doesn’t seem very much but something may come of it for horticulture firms, as it did for Hilliers with trees for the Olympics.

"I suspect something will filter down to one or two folks. Osborne doesn’t have much room to manoeuvre because there’s no money and he can’t borrow.

"But I’m pleased he didn’t back down on planning reforms: the economy and housing market are in such a mess he can’t afford to and the reforms appear to favour a presumption to develop. This should offer more incentive to entrepreneurs to build and may help garden centres keen to expand."

Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson said: "The amenity side is continuing to be very strong but we need these infrastructure projects to keep going. We want more road and rail schemes to go ahead."

Growforth MD Stan Green said: "There has been very little investment made by pension companies because of the slow return but if they can get the return more quickly it’s a good thing. This is just an autumn statement, with the real detail being in the budget."

BALI chairman Paul Cowell said:

"We need a detailed breakdown to see how this will become reality."

Alastair McCapra, Landscape Institute chief executive, said:

"Osborne also said he would streamline procurement, which is excellent. There’s no point having more infrastructure work if it takes two weeks and a huge legal team to read a contract."

Garden Industries Manufacturers’ Association director Neil Gow said:

"The government needed to do more to get consumers to spend. There is little point underwriting bank loans because businesses won’t invest if there’s no demand, while underwriting loans may just prop up unstable businesses."

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said:

"Downgraded forecasts make it all the more vital that the Chancellor implements a credible plan for stimulating economic growth which helps retail in keeping inflation down and generating jobs, especially for young people.

"The Chancellor has addressed a number of the concerns we raised with him. His measures should provide some help to the hardest-hit families and may go some way to reversing the trend of falling consumer spending, but the challenge for the next twelve months will be to rebuild consumer confidence and stimulate private sector investment.

"A number of these proposals have the potential to help households and businesses but may not go far enough, particularly if the eurozone crisis deepens."

 Phil Orford, Chief Executive of the not-for-profit small business body the Forum of Private Business, has responded to today’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, George Osborne.

"We welcome the announcement of 50% income tax relief and a one-year capital gains holiday for those investing in start ups under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), but the Government should have acted to encourage private lenders too," said Mr Orford. "Small firms need a range of funding options, and equity finance is certainly one of these, but lending at interest remains their preferred route by far.

"Combined with these tax breaks, the Government’s new credit easing scheme and an extended Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), providing incentives for new lenders to compete with the high-street banks would be more likely to boost competition in small business borrowing markets, driving up levels of service and bringing down costs. It is a shame this has not happened."

Examples of new road schemes:
  • Lower Thames Crossing
  • Kingskerswell Bypass, Devon
  • A453, Nottingham
  • Manchester Airport Link Road

 

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