IoD: Sunak missed a trick

Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said the Chancellor had “pulled a few rabbits out of his hat” today, but added that many directors will feel like he missed a trick.

“We fully understand the Treasury’s desire to focus on the young, and particularly badly-affected sectors, but coronavirus has crippled many parts of the economy,” he said.

“The JRS bonus offers something of an off-ramp from the furlough scheme, and firms will certainly be doing all they can to keep people on board. However, with cash so tight now, January may feel like a long way off for some businesses. Meanwhile, the Kickstart Scheme is a welcome idea, and we hope the system will be easy for employers to use. The boosts for apprenticeships and other training are also steps in the right direction.

The statement at a glance – and how business reacted

“Support for hospitality will clearly go down well with the sector. However, we were looking for broader-based measures to help companies ride out the crisis – which is by no means over – particularly for those who have so far fallen through the gaps of support schemes. A glaring omission throughout this pandemic has been the exclusion of small company directors, many of whom have not been able to access income support. Widening grant schemes could help those who have been left struggling without assistance, and help more firms to re-open.

“While boosting green investment marks a welcome step towards our long term goals for the economy, it can only be the start, and we will need much more encouragement to help businesses invest in green and digital technologies. At the same time, with our data showing exports have taken a knock due to the pandemic, it’s essential that sufficient measures are taken soon to aid international traders so we can avoid a perfect storm come the end of the year.

“The Chancellor’s greatest strength has been his willingness to adapt as the situation moves. While there were certainly things for businesses to welcome today, there is still a long hard road back to full economic health.”