Industry welcomes Chancellors's autumn statement but fears persist

The chancellor's autumn statement - which promised a delay in a 3p rise in fuel duty due in January, a £30bn programme of public works and a pledge to underwrite £40bn in loans for small businesses - has been welcomed by industry figures.

Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson said: "The fuel duty delay will help massively. We cannot easily pass on the increase to garden centres and contractors but it is also difficult for us to swallow. We've saved eight per cent on transport by moving to another haulier, which has cancelled out increases from the past 18 months, but you can't keep doing that."

He also welcomed news of the infrastructure projects, as did Growforth managing director Stan Green. "New projects would be fantastic but we have to see the timescales," he said. "Pension companies have money and if they can get the return more quickly it's a good thing."

BALI chairman Paul Cowell added: "The gap between implementation and delivery is key. The £30bn for infrastructure is good but how will small business get to know about it? We need a detailed breakdown to see how this will become reality."

Landscape Institute chief executive Alastair McCapra said: "The investment in road, rail and power is good news and spreading the investments geographically should help practices up and down the country.

"We wanted 10 per cent of the £30bn dedicated to green projects and more protection, not less, for wildlife habitats. But Osborne said he would sreamline procurement, which is excellent."

Garden Industries Manufacturers' Association director Neil Gow warned: "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."

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