Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Autumn Budget was smoothly delivered and moved the economy from pandemic to progress, but Business Editor Mike Hughes reports on a cautious reception from some North East businesses


TEES Valley Mayor Ben Houchen says the Chancellor delivered “the second Budget for Teesside” after the region’s freeport status was confirmed. 
  With the official green-light the Teesside Freeport can officially open for business, which means not only will it be the largest freeport in the country but it will also be the first one to be set up. It is expected that the project will deliver 18,000 good-quality, well paid jobs for local workers over the next five years.
  The news comes after a series of major announcements ahead of the Budget which have provided nearly half a billion pounds in new money for Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool.
  Ahead of the Budget Mayor Houchen was able to secure £417m for local transport and key infrastructure projects, including a new quay at Teesworks.
He said yesterday: “Coming just seven months after the Chancellor delivered a Budget that provided a huge amount for our region, he has delivered a second Budget for Teesside.”
 “Since Rishi stood at the Dispatch Box in March and announced that Teesside would be home to the UK’s biggest freeport, we’ve been working flat out to make our plans for the Teesside Freeport a reality, and I’m delighted they’ve been given the final green-light, which also means we’ll be the first freeport in the country. 
 “The double whammy of domestic Air Passenger Duty been charged on both departing and returning flights is something I have long campaigned against, while it will still be charged on both flights, the 50% cut announced by the Chancellor is a very welcome move. 
 “This shows that Rishi is committed to Teesside and levelling up the north so we can secure the investment that will create the good-quality skilled jobs.”
Jonathan Walker, policy director at the North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “The Budget had some welcome announcements for North East businesses but our wait for a long-term levelling up strategy goes on. 
 “In the near term we were pleased to see Government had listened to our campaigning on the need for support for the hospitality, arts and culture sectors as well as our regional airports which were so badly hit by the pandemic. 
 “We welcome the confirmation of funding for a number of regeneration and transport projects across the region. Similarly, many of our members will benefit from the measures announced today on business rates although they fall short on the substantial reform that is needed. 
 “However, substantial longer-term strategies like the Levelling Up White Paper, the integrated rail plan and details on how the Shared Prosperity Fund will work, have yet to see the light of day.
 “We would like to have seen further support for exporters as international trade is so crucial to our economy.” 
Among North East businesses reacting to the Budget, Jeremy Chelot, chief executive of Netomnia and Internet provider YouFibre, said: “We welcome the government’s support for rural deployment, and we hope it doesn’t just end up as money for larger operators.
“It’s important to protect companies like Netomnia which are already building ultrafast full fibre broadband using private investment in areas, such as those in the north-east, that have been left out by larger providers. Effective national coverage will only be achieved through industry and government collaboration.”
 Charlene Lyons, chief executive of Black Sheep Brewery, said: “The simplification of alcohol duty rates is long overdue, but more significant is the draught relief, which recognises the importance of pubs to our economy and our communities. “
 George Rafferty, chief executive of NOF, the business development organisation for the energy sector, said: “The UK supply chain will be instrumental in the creation of a low carbon economy, so any incentive to drive research and development along with investment in kit and equipment will be key to supporting the energy transition.”
 Bob Borthwick, a director of Stockton-based haulage, plant hire and recycling specialists Scott Bros, said: “Our costs have risen dramatically in recent months due to the soaring price of fuel, so anything that prevent overheads rising further is a relief to a wide-range of businesses that are transport reliant.”
 Lee Watson, a tax partner at Clive Owen, said: “There was much talk of “levelling up” but attention will need to be paid to the detail in the documentation that is released over the coming days as he confirmed that everyday spending will be paid for by taxation.”
  Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Sedgefield-based Kromek Group plc, said: “The announcement on research and development funding marks a great step towards ensuring that the UK’s future economic potential, to be a global player in emerging technology and innovation, is realised.”



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