In a live Budget Day broadcast Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive Dr Ian Kelly told BBC2’s Daily Politics show that the £90m extra transport spend for the North is just not enough.
In an interview at Arco’s Distribution Centre in Hull with the BBC’s popular political journalist Jo Coburn, Dr Kelly said that whilst it was a good “steady as she goes” Budget which needed to bear down on the £1.7-trillion national debt, the £90m announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond to “address transport pinchpoints” will hardly scratch the surface of what is required to keep the congested roads and ageing rail networks in the North of England moving.
Dr Kelly however welcomed the Chancellor’s comment that he would soften the effect of the changes in business rates for the hardest-hit firms. Mr Hammond announced three measures for England: a cap so rates rise by no more than £50 a month for small businesses losing their rate relief. Pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will get a £1,000 discount on business their rates – a move which will help 90% of pubs, and local authorities will be given a £300-million fund for discretionary relief, which amounts to a £435-million cut.
Dr Kelly also welcomed the Chancellor’s observation that unemployment was falling faster in Yorkshire and the Humber than anywhere else in the country, and praised the work of the Humber Renewables industry and companies like DONG Energy and Siemens who have based themselves here and are now providing valued new local employment opportunities.