Business leaders and politicians in Nottinghamshire have given a varied response to the last budget before Brexit.
A raft of new spending policies were announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond, including more monies for schools, roads, the NHS and social care.
Mr Hammond also repeated the Prime Minister’s claim that austerity was coming to an end – something disputed by the opposition.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the budget a “short-term fix” and said there were still huge “regional inequalities” in the UK.
He said: “What we heard today were half measures and quick fixes while austerity grinds on.”
But the chancellor said the country had “reached a defining moment on this long, hard journey” after repairing the damage to the public finances.
Among the policies announced today was an additional £70 million for the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), on the Nottinghamshire Leicestershire border.
According to the chancellor this will help the newly-opened state-of-the-art facility to open to the public, rather than just to military personnel.
Among the policies announced today were:
£420 million to fix potholes on roads and renew bridges and tunnels, and there will be a £150 million to improve local traffic hotspots such as roundabouts
The tax-free Personal Allowance will rise to £12,500. This is the amount people can earn before they start paying tax
£500 million for Brexit preparations in Government departments
£1.7 billion to increase existing work allowances in Universal Credit
Duty on beer, cider and spirits remains frozen
£650 million for social care next year
£400 million extra for schools this year to buy ‘little extras’
Business rates to be cut by a third for small businesses in town centres
£1bn for defence spending
A two percent digital service tax on large online firms such as Google, Amazon and Facebook
The Conservative-run Nottinghamshire County Council welcomed the additional spending for the DNRC, which opened by Prince William in June.
The leader of the council, Councillor Kay Cutts, who represents the Radcliffe-on-Trent ward, said: “I was delighted to learn the Government is to commit up to £70 million towards the civilian element of the new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre at the Stanford Hall Estate. Not only will this benefit the users of this facility from around the country, it will also have a positive impact on Nottinghamshire’s economy.
“There is no doubt that this is a world-leading facility and it is excellent to learn in the Chancellor’s budget that plans are progressing to incorporate rehabilitation for civilian patients.
“I know from my tour of the facilities that the centre also brings opportunities for research and training, which means the DNRC will put Nottinghamshire at the forefront of rehabilitation, making our county a national hub for expertise in this area and potentially providing significant spin-off benefits for local patients, our hospitals and other health services.”
But Nottingham City Council’s deputy leader, Councillor Graham Chapman, who represents the Aspley ward for Labour, was more critical of the budget.
He said: “It seems that the Chancellor has been unable to deliver on the Prime Minister’s promise that austerity is ending. Local people are unlikely to feel much benefit from this budget, and the cuts to council funding which impact on them remain entirely unaffected.
“Any additional money for adult social care is welcome of course, but it is not nearly enough and not the way to properly fund this crucial service. Money for potholes is an easy win for Government, but the way they hand it out favours rural areas so we don’t expect it to be enough to fix the problem in Nottingham.
“The lifting of the housing cap is something we have been calling for and is very welcome – but there is still no help from Government to address the fact that the number of homes we can build will be limited by the upfront costs not being recouped for many years. We also need assurances that Government will change the rules on right to buy.
“This was an opportunity to invest in growth, infrastructure, jobs and training and to rebalance the economy north of Birmingham. Although there are some helpful bits that are welcome, they remain just bits and are inadequate to meet the needs of people in Nottingham and the wider economy.”
Ian Baxter is the chairman of Baxter Freight, a logistics firm which employs more than 60 staff from its Nottingham headquarters.
He said: “What we have learned from the Chancellor’s Budget announcement is that he really isn’t planning on a no deal Brexit which may be the biggest thing to cheer of all his announcements.
“Nor does the Government have an adequate plan to deal with the directly foreseeable consequences of leaving the Customs Union whether in March or at the end of a transition period.
“Let me be clear: both of these scenarios would have significant and negative consequences for British business and the Public Finances. If the Government believes there is any real prospect of either happening then we will need a plan to deal with them.
“If we were to end up with a ‘no deal’ Brexit this would require a completely new Budget announcement and economic forecast from the Government. Today’s £500m no deal funding, £2.2billion Brexit funding or £15 billion Brexit contingency would not touch the sides of the problem.”