The Autumn Statement provided a relatively positive update on the economic progress that is being made to restore the country’s finances and bring us back into the black. After supporting millions of people and businesses through the pandemic, it is more than necessary to tighten the reins so as to ensure debt is not landed on future generations.
It also allowed the Government to show the progress that has been made since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister and began to reduce the tax burden. By reducing national insurance contributions, freezing business rates, and making full expensing permanent, the Government has made it clear is on the side of working people and small businesses across the country.
These measures are an indicator of what is to come in the Spring Budget: a clear march towards reducing the tax threshold further for both businesses and individuals. Already the Prime Minister can tick off one of his five pledges, to reduce inflation by 50%, and now all that remains are the targets to grow the economy and reduce the national debt. These ambitions are not lofty, impossible targets, but now realistic, reachable objectives due to the financial prudence that has been taken.
Supporting businesses and those in work will only help to create new jobs and opportunities across the country. However, it is not just domestic policy that is set to help businesses, but also our international trade ambitions. The list of commonalities between the UK and South Korea is a lengthy one. During the South Korean President’s state visit, the signed Downing Street Accords rightly recognised the areas in which we can work together through a new free trade agreement, namely in green technology, semi-conductors, AI, academic and digital trade. A free trade agreement with one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world will make a huge difference, even here in South Devon.
Our growing photonics, pharmaceutical and high-tech businesses will not only find tariffs and non-tariff barriers removed from them, but they will find new points of cooperation and engagement. South Korea’s health and semi-conductor sectors are already globally leading, meaning our local powerhouse businesses such as Torbay Pharmaceuticals and Bay Photonics will find new markets and opportunities to attract investment.
Both domestically and internationally, it is right to find ways in which we can push the state back, reduce the tax burden as well as open up new regions of the world. The naysayers will point to the limited forecasted short-term growth of trade deals, while inconveniently failing to recognise that they are often hugely undervalued and wrong. British businesses will work with other international businesses, creating new supply chains and developing new products, in doing becoming more resilient to global shocks and surprises.
The past years have not been easy for businesses or individuals, but it is reassuring to see that progress is being made and that we can expect the months and years ahead to be accompanied by tax reductions and new opportunities. It is my mission to make sure local businesses across South Devon take full advantage of these moments, and that the Government goes further and faster to support growth across the whole of the South West and, indeed, the country.