‘Let the people decide’: Business leaders respond to Hunt’s emergency statement

Jeremy Hunt

Business leaders from across the East Midlands have responded to Jeremy Hunt’s emergency statement with a mixture of consternation, frustration and bemusement after the Chancellor set the country on a markedly different economic path to the one promised by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng less than a month ago.

Hunt swept away almost all of the unfunded tax cuts announced in the mini-Budget of September 21 and brought forward a range of measures from the economic plan he is planning to reveal in full on October 31.

You can read more about his plans here.

East Midlands Chamber boss Scott Knowles said: “Staging two vastly different mini-budgets, underpinned by opposing ideologies, within a matter of weeks is an unprecedented situation for our country and this relentless cycle of uncertainty is crippling our economy.

“It creates a zero-confidence environment that affects businesses’ ability to plan definitively, which in turn has a negative impact on investment into growth and jobs – something our region will be concerned about given the unemployment rate has increased over the past two months, albeit from a record-low figure.

“Upholding the commitment to cutting national insurance will be welcomed by businesses, but reversing almost every other measure on taxes paid by firms will be hugely worrying when we are dealing with a cost-of-doing-business crisis. A significant scale-back of the Energy Price Guarantee is a particular concern as this will affect both businesses and their employees.”

Kevin Drew, managing director of Derby-based Ascentant Accountancy, said: “On Monday morning, it was reported that 50,000 SMEs in London had collapsed according to ONS figures, while the Insolvency Service reported insolvencies at an eight year high.

“With supply chain issues, the cost of living crisis and rising energy bills, now is the time that businesses really need to be looking ahead and planning a survival strategy, ensuring they have working capital and forecasting to ensure their future.

“With the constant change in tax announcements, we can’t advise our clients with certainty on tax planning or best practice to ensure that they survive the next 12 months. We fear that this is the beginning, not the peak, of more business insolvencies and lost jobs.”

Anil Mistry, director at Leicester-based RNR Mortgage Solutions, said: “Hunt has returned to reality and realised that the tax cuts in the mini-Budget were simply not feasible. Hopefully, this will bring confidence and stability to the UK markets and the weak Pound. It will be interesting to see how long Liz Truss lasts, as this announcement has obliterated her credibility.”

Lewis Shaw, founder of Mansfield-based Shaw Financial Services, said: “Trussonomics has been shown to be an idiotic experiment perpetuated by talking heads within think tanks such as the IEA. Off the back of this, Liz is now PM in name only; she’s in office but not in power.

“We’ve got more instability to come as the Tories try to wrestle with their fractured internal ideologies between ultra-free-market libertarian proponents and the moderate side, of which few are left. Nevertheless, we know that we’re going to have a new PM, and behind the scenes, the 1922 committee will be away sorting out the mechanisms for it.

“If anyone knows of a time machine going spare so we can go back to 2015 and have chaos with Ed Miliband rather than the strength and stability David Cameron perpetuated, that would be great.”

Debbie Porter, managing director of Bakewell-based Destination Digital Marketing, said: “You have to hand it to politicians, they are as patient as a cat watching a mousehole. Hunt lost out in his leadership bid to Johnson, and Sunak lost out to Truss. They are now leading from behind to manoeurve themselves into positions they feel were rightly theirs in the first place. And why not? The Conservatives have had more changes in leadership than Lady Gaga goes through costume changes in a gig. Everyone will get a turn if they wait long enough. It’s almost as if the country they are serving is immaterial as they focus on taking the top job.”

Eddie Young of Burton-based Misterey Entertainment added: “There are more donuts in this administration than there are at Krispy Kreme HQ. Just call a general election and let the people decide who runs this country. And my guess is the current lot will perform the ultimate vanishing act.”

Politicians were also quick to react to the news.

In a social media post, Ben Bradley MP, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said the announcement “effectively render[ed] all the political fallout, criticism, dive in the polls etc of the last few weeks entirely pointless.”

He added that the Government was “right back where [it] started, just far less popular than before.”

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...