Suffolk bosses left 'nonplussed' after Rishi Sunak's mini budget

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves 11 Downing Street as he heads to the House of Commons

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves 11 Downing Street as he heads to the House of Commons to deliver his Spring Statement. - Credit: PA

Suffolk's business leaders have been left "nonplussed" by the chancellor's spring statement, with some bosses describing the measures as "a drop in the ocean".

Rishi Sunak unveiled a 5p per litre cut to fuel duty, an increase in the amount of money people can take home without paying National Insurance and promised future tax cuts.

John Dugmore, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: "Suffolk’s hardworking business owners will be pretty nonplussed by this spring statement. It’s almost as if they and the trading realities they face aren’t being fully comprehended in Whitehall and Westminster.

John Dugmore speaking at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce / EDF Breakfast at Trinity Park

John Dugmore speaking at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce / EDF Breakfast at Trinity Park - Credit: David Garrad

“The chancellor delivered lots of promises about future possible tax cuts on business investment, adjustments to the Apprenticeship Levy and extensions to R&D tax credits.

"But in terms of the here and now, he seems to have only offered a few limited, albeit still welcome, concessions in terms of fuel duty reductions and business rates discounts for some specific sectors.

“With many firms facing considerable challenges in terms of price increases and the resulting squeeze on their cashflow, this statement has rather body swerved the really important decisions regarding delaying increases to employer NI contributions and corporation tax and capping energy prices for small and medium enterprises which are the backbone of our local and regional economies.”

Jenny Hanlon, chief financial officer at Southwold-based brewery Adnams, said the chancellor had "assisted a broad spectrum of individuals and businesses" in a "tough situation".

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The firm's staff will benefit from the National Insurance threshold being increased, she said, while the firm and the rest of the economy will benefit from the cut on fuel duty.

She said: "They can always do more. But it's really obvious that they're listening to the pressures that individuals, companies and industries alike are feeling in the country at the moment.

"There were many opportunities, some have been taken and some haven't.

"As a finance person myself, I can understand that it's all about balance: you have to pick one or two things that you think can impact as many people as possible."


Jenny Hanlon, Adnams chief financial officer

Jenny Hanlon, Adnams chief financial officer - Credit: ANTHONY CULLEN/ADNAMS

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said the duty cut “doesn’t go very far to help low-wage key workers who rely on a car to get to their place of employment, often at times which are antisocial and when other travel options are non-existent”.

Roly Hollings, boss of Bury St Edmunds-based haulage firm A&R Group, estimated the cut on fuel duty would equate to a saving of £50 per truck per week.

He described this as a "drop in the ocean".