Government budget announcement met by positivity in Bury St Edmunds
The Government's budget was announced this afternoon, and has been met with a generally positive response across different industries in Bury St Edmunds.
In an address in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak outlined the Government's economic plan to guide the country out of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the main points to note were an extension of the Furlough Scheme until September, business restart grants from April, an extension to a cut in Stamp Duty until the end of June 2021, and a giant £700 million arts, culture and sport grant.
Owen Calvert-Lyons, Theatre Royal director, said any additional funding for them was welcome.
"It's all money well spent given that the creative industry generates for the public purse," he said.
The theatre is to reopen, as per the current Government roadmap out of lockdown, on May 20, for a socially-distanced summer season, starting off with their own production of Around the World in Eighty Days.
Mr Calvert-Lyons said he was excited to welcome people back.
"We are looking forward to it," he said.
"We are busy gearing up for the busy period, using the money from the Cultural Recovery Fund to get ourselves ready."
Mr Calvert-Lyons added the Cultural Recovery Fund had so far been an 'absolute lifeline'.
Mr Calvert-Lyons also welcomed the continuation to the self-employed grants and the Furlough Scheme which have proved so 'important' to those across the industry.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds' Business Improvement District, gave the budget an eight out of ten.
"My overall view is that it's a very supportive budget for our businesses," he said.
"Some of the additional support is not going to last for as long and we had hoped however."
Mr Cordell praised the extension to the Furlough Scheme and the VAT reduction extension for hospitality businesses.
Like with Mr Calvert-Lyons, Mr Cordell was pleased with the support for the self-employed in the town.
"It gives our businesses a chance to get back on their feet given they can open as of the roadmap," he said.
The announcement was met with caution by Ben Hutton, who owns the Ben's and Queen's restaurants in town.
He said he wasn't 'disappointed' with the announcement, but that the success of the support offered would depend on the Government's roadmap following its current trajectory and it not being delayed.
"I like the staggered corporation tax for smaller businesses," he said.
"We have had a lot of support over the last 12 months and it will come to a cost that we all need to give back.
"We cannot just keep taking money."
Paul Simon, head of policy and communications for the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "At first glance, Suffolk Chamber is impressed with how this budget will support both the short-term recovery and the long-term renewal of our local and regional economy.
"We are pleased that the Chancellor has delivered the vast majority of our immediate requests and those of our members, including an extension to the furlough, self-employed, business rates relief and VAT deferment schemes.
"We are also relieved that the increases in Corporation Tax will not take effect until 2023.
He added: “Of course, we will now look in depth at the details underneath these encouraging headlines, not least the announcements due on March 23 regarding future tax increases.
"But for now, Suffolk Chamber can say that we are impressed with this Budget so far.”
Meanwhile, Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: "It was great to hear the Chancellor deliver today's budget, which is innovative and right for the times.
"The budget supports jobs, training, business investment and builds on the pandemic support already in place.
"I believe the budget delivers for individuals and businesses across the constituency and beyond.
"The Freeport East announced in today’s budget will drive quality jobs, investment and regeneration to the constituency and Suffolk as a whole.
"Ensuring we remain a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship going forwards.
"I am also pleased to see the support for the hospitality and tourism industries, both of which are vital to our local economy.
"I am hopeful that the support and policies in this budget will help us build back better from this pandemic.”