Autumn Budget 2021: reactions

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has encouraged a wave of business and expert reaction after delivering his Autumn Budget today, in which he committed to higher spending and tax cuts.

Here's what some industry insiders and tax experts had to say.

Business rates

In his speech, Sunak revealed his plan for business rates in England, which included:

  • increase in frequency of revaluations from once every five years to once every three years
  • improvement rates holiday for 12 months
  • a 50% discount for retail, hospitality and leisure from 2022/23, up to £110,000.

Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), lauded the reforms as "good news for many firms", commenting:

"This will provide much needed relief for businesses across the country, giving many firms renewed confidence to invest and grow."

Less positively, editorial and research fellow at the free market think-tank Institute of Economic Affairs, Len Shackleton, described the changes to business rates as a "plaster solution", saying:

"The Chancellor recognises that business rates need fundamental reform, but as yet there is no clear view about how he plans to do this.

"A long-term solution must be in place before this new relief expires."

Air passenger duty

On the 50% cut to air passenger duty for flights within the UK from 2023/24, head of the environmental justice commission at the Institute for Public Policy Research, Luke Murphy, described the move as an "own goal" for the Government as it prepares to host the upcoming climate summit COP26.

While duties for domestic flights will be cut, duties for long-haul overseas ones will be raised to £91 on flights of 5,500 miles or more.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"We've always said it doesn't make sense for those travelling overseas to pay less in air passenger duty than those who choose to support UK holiday destinations.

"Today's reforms to the levy mark a victory for common sense."

Minimum wage

The Government has also increased the national living wage by 6.6% from £8.91 to £9.50, on which Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the BCC, said:

"There is a limit to how much more firms can continue to absorb rising costs before they have to raise their own prices adding to inflationary pressures.

"The best way to sustainably increase wages is to help firms boost their skills and productivity."

Talk to us about the Autumn Budget.