CLA responds to Autumn Statement: "It fails to recognise the potential of the rural economy"

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's statement missed the opportunity to help unlock growth, says CLA President Victoria Vyvyan
Jeremy Hunt - credit HM Treasury
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt cut National Insurance for workers but many of the measures were urban-centric. Photo credit HM Treasury.

The Chancellor's Autumn Statement fails to recognise the potential of the rural economy, CLA President Victoria Vyvyan has said.

Jeremy Hunt has unveiled the Government's tax and spending plans in the House of Commons, and while he announced a number of tax cuts or breaks there was little to cheer for the rural economy.

Responding to his statement, CLA President Victoria Vyvyan said:

“From a tax perspective, this was an Autumn Statement that failed to recognise the potential of the rural economy, with thousands of rural businesses excluded from what were largely urban-centric measures.

“Rural businesses have suffered a very high tax burden at the same time as high costs. While some measures, such as cuts to self-employed national insurance, are welcome, they will not help businesses in the countryside to grow.

“The tax system needs to be simplified and designed to modernise the sector, driving productivity growth. This means extending the full expensing regime beyond large corporates to include unincorporated businesses as well buildings and infrastructure.

“We welcome measures to help speed up the planning system and provide extra funding for house-building – but government has been talking about planning and housing reform for decades. It now needs urgently to deliver on its promises.”

The Chancellor announced measures including:

  • National Insurance paid by employees has been cut from 12% to 10%, taking effect from 6 January.
  • The state pension will increase by 8.5% from April 2024 to £221.20 a week.
  • The 75% business rates discount for retail, hospitality and leisure firms extended for another year
  • But the economy is forecast to grow slower than expected - 0.7% next year instead of the 1.8% previously forecast by the independent watchdog.
  • Labour says the changes to National Insurance won't offset earlier rises, with Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves arguing the tax announcements will leave people "worse off".