Creatives' concern at Spring Statement reverting to a Budget

A single sentence from Budget 2018 has unsettled the creative industries, for its potential to sting them at a time of Brexit-induced challenges.

In his Budget speech, the chancellor reminded that he reserves the right to U-turn on what has been widely seen as his showpiece announcement of his first Autumn Statement.

"As I have been clear since moving to an Autumn Budget," Philip Hammond began last Monday, "if the economic or fiscal outlook changes materially in-year, I will take whatever action is appropriate, including if necessary reserving the right to upgrade the Spring Statement to a full fiscal event."

Alan Bishop, the chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) said: "The possibility that the Spring Statement may be upgraded to a 'full fiscal event' suggests that an emergency budget may be forthcoming should a deal not be reached."

He said it was, therefore "vital" that creative enterprises and entrepreneurs received "assurances" from the government that "they will be fully supported" -- in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Beyond this area of concern, the federation said there were some positive aspects of the Budget -- the recognition of small businesses for example ("encouraging entrepreneurs must be at the heart of our strategy," Mr Hammond said).

There was also an announced extension to Start-Up Loans funding, until 2021, which Mr Hammond said would help support 10,000 entrepreneurs.

Similarly, Mr Bishop said it was a "step in the right direction" for the amount that small and mid-sized enterprises contribute towards apprenticeships to be reduced from ten per cent to five per cent.

But like the chancellor's announced support for IP-rich businesses, the CIF wants to see apprenticeships made creative industry-specific, or just more creative industry-friendly.

"There is more to do to ensure it [the Apprenticeship Levy] is appropriately tailored to the creative industries", the federation said. "And support for IP-rich businesses is welcome... [but] it is now time to consider how these measures and more can best support the UK’s creative enterprises and entrepreneurs".


5th November 2018

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