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Industry welcomes chancellor’s investment in infrastructure

Chancellor Philip Hammond earmarks £1.1bn for English local transport networks in Autumn Statement

Pictured: chancellor Philip Hammond

Event industry leaders have welcomed a £1.1 billion investment in transport unveiled by the chancellor Philip Hammond.

In his first Autumn Statement, the chancellor announced a new National Productivity Investment Fund of £23bn to be spent on innovation and infrastructure over the next five years, with an additional £1.1bn of investment in English local transport networks.

Paul Wait, chief executive of the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC), said: “Following confirmation of expansion at Heathrow it is reassuring to see the government recognises the need for a continued investment in our infrastructure with the announcement today that there will be an extra £1.1bn invested in our transport networks, particularly in rail. 

“Likewise support for the growth of UK plc with investment not only in our transport infrastructure but also the commitment to spend more than £1bn on our digital infrastructure will be welcomed by the business community and business travellers alike and we look forward to the government’s strategy to redistribute investment and support business growth beyond London and the south east.

“The elephant in the room that still needs to be addressed is that of APD and how any reduction can deliver benefits in another way and linked to existing Government objectives. Some creative thinking is required to progress this issue and move from its current position of intransigence.”

The Government's finances are forecast to be £122bn worse off in the period up to 2021 than forecast in the spring Budget.

And the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said it expected the economy to grow by 1.4 per cent in 2017, down from the 2.2 per cent predicted in March. However, the growth forecast for this year has been raised slightly to 2.1 per cent from 2 per cent.

The OBR also expects growth to be 2.4 per cent slower in the next five years as a result of the vote to leave the European Union.

Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, said: “The Autumn Statement not only bought home the stark realities and feelings towards the business marketplace, but also to the general political landscape as a whole. From my perspective, it is refreshing for society to not stick their collective head in the sand and avoid the issues which lay ahead. 

“Having said that, there is a minor degree of realistic optimism through small steps that have been taken in the statement. This can be evidenced in encouraging infrastructure growth especially in the digital sector and also new incentives for investment in growing firms.”

Leigh Cowlishaw, HBAA chair, said: “The HBAA welcomes the chancellor’s clarification of the growth forecast. 

“The events and hospitality industry has shown over many years and in different economic environments that it is highly adaptable, resilient and innovative. 

“While the industry has absorbed and adjusted to the current trend for short lead times for bookings, it is helpful to our members’ businesses, in forecasting, budgeting and developing strategies, to have longer term reassurance of the financial outlook. 

“We also welcome the investment in road and transport infrastructure as any initiative that enables people to travel more efficiently is valuable.”

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