Budget 2016: Tax breaks good, but British Woodworking Federation unconvinced on Business Rates

17 March 2016

Tax breaks have gone well with the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) but the organisation was less certain of the benefits of cuts to Business Rates announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in yesterday’s Budget.

“Joinery is the third largest sector of employment in the construction industry, so tax breaks are welcome news for the sector. Driving down corporation tax is a simple way to support UK manufacturers striving to remain competitive in a global market. It will help take the sting out of wage inflation and other inflationary pressures announced, such as IPT increases. The jury is out on Business Rates though,” said Iain McIlwee, the BWF’s chief executive.

“Nothing has been done to limit the impact on investment – the changes presented are more retail-focussed than helping those with manufacturing premises. Linking future movement to RPI is good, but waiting until 2020 is just jam tomorrow.

“With pressing skills shortages we need to stop dithering on apprentices. The lack of any further clarifications on how the Levy will work is a disappointment. More maths in schools can only be a good thing, but how about some structured careers support? The aspirational three million apprentice starts need to be targeted and nurtured effectively to add up to three million productive workers.

“We are also sceptical about the Government's commitment to deliver 400,000 affordable housing starts. It sounds positive, but in reality it is less of a commitment than a vague hope. We need a steady flow of affordable housing onto the market and realistically this needs to be driven by direct government investment. Had this programme commenced at the start of the recession, asset ownership could be flattering the national balance sheet right now; instead incentivising housing demand continues to be a burden.

“A final concern is not just the absence but the derision with which the Chancellor is treating environmental issues. This fundamentally undermines his assertion this is a Budget that puts the next generation first. This may yet be the legacy for which he is really remembered.”