But welcomes help towards apprenticeships

Howard Pridding, Chief Executive of the British Marine Federation, said of the Autumn Statement: “While this Statement is not a game changer for the industry, we are pleased a number of the initiatives announced should help BMF members.’

The British Marine Federation (BMF) broadly welcomed the announcements included in the Autumn Statement earlier today. Asserting that “Britain’s economic plan is working”, George Osborne detailed growth in GDP of 1.4% in 2013 and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to maintain the present course to ensure the recovery continues.

The Chancellor detailed a number of initiatives to support small businesses, especially on the charges imposed through business rates. As widely expected, Mr Osborne promised to limit rises in business rates to 2%, and also pledged to give a £1,000 discount on rates for business premises worth up to £50,000.

The small business rate relief scheme was also extended beyond 2014. Rates were due to go up in line with September’s retail price index of 3.2%, adding £900m to business owners’ tax bills, but instead the cap will cushion the rise and businesses will be allowed to pay their rates in 12 monthly instalments.

A raft of further measures was announced designed to kick-start general business growth. The Chancellor detailed that the export finance capacity for UK businesses has been doubled to £50bn, while there will be an additional 50,000 start-up loans for entrepreneurs and an extension to the new Enterprise Allowance.

More broadly, next year’s fuel duty rise will be cancelled and the government has announced measures to encourage youth employment. Employers will no longer have to pay national insurance contributions for staff under the age of 21 and there will be a requirement for job seekers aged 18 to 21 to start a traineeship, work experience or community work after six months.

Mr Pridding, added:”Access to credit has been difficult for many small businesses, and the changes to rates will go some way to ease the financial pressure on our members. The sector has also been a strong advocate of apprenticeship schemes, and we are encouraged to see that Government is supporting employment of young people through the exemption in NI contributions for under 21s and wider roll-out of a traineeship scheme.”