24 November 2016, 09:36 AM
  • Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced the details of this year's Autumn Statement, including an increase in the National Living Wage and reduction of Corporation Tax. Here, two industry figureheads share their thoughts on the new nationwide ruling
Comment: Autumn Statement

Andrew Clark, director of policy at NFU:
“The NFU’s vision is clear: competitive, profitable and progressive farm businesses are central to a dynamic UK food chain and a thriving food and farming sector. Farming is the bedrock of the UK’s food and drink industry worth £108 billion to the economy and providing jobs for 3.9 million people, all while providing great British food.

“While there are some positives measures announced today, it is disappointing that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement fell short of delivering measures that will enable our farm businesses to maximise their potential.

“The Chancellor’s planned reduction to the rate of Corporation Tax, while providing benefits to the supply chain, does little to help the majority of farm businesses that are unincorporated. Farm businesses need to be able to retain and invest profits in infrastructure and equipment to improve their productivity and the tax system needs to recognise and support this, as it does other parts of the economy.

“The National Living Wage rate will be increased to £7.50 per hour in April 2017. The NFU strongly supports a living wage for all workers but we have expressed to Government our concerns about the speed of the implementation. Accelerating increases will make this even more difficult for employers and we remain concerned about the lack of consultation with the agricultural and horticultural sector on these measures and how they will affect farm businesses.”

Ian Wright CBE, director general at Food and Drink Federation:
“Food and drink manufacturing is strategically important to the UK economy and in ensuring future food security. Worth £21.9 billion, employing around 400,000 people, and feeding millions every day, UK food and drink manufacturers have been a beacon of productivity and export growth, as this week’s exceptional figures showed.

“Exports of branded food and drink are at their highest level on record and yet there is massive untapped opportunity for UK businesses. Doubling of export finance capacity to support trade is welcome. We will work with UK Export Finance (UKEF) to boost awareness among food and drink exporters of the products and services they provide. For food and drink producers, it’s the on-the-ground support such as mentoring and increased UK presence at internationals trade shows which can result in the greatest gains.

“With its regional spread, food and drink manufacturers are well placed to help ensure every corner of the UK shares in economic success. The £23bn funding for productivity is the right commitment at the right time.

“For food and drink, the Chancellor’s support for the productivity agenda and extra funding for innovation more broadly means better skilled jobs, more sustainable manufacturing processes, and greater capacity for R&D.

“An effective partnership between industry and Government has never been more important as we face into the significant economic challenges described in today’s Autumn Statement and embark on a new relationship with the EU and the rest of the world. We need a new industrial strategy, informed by the particular needs of food and drink manufacturers, so we can sustain our workforce needs, access essential raw ingredients and maintain consumer confidence in our industry.”

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