Chancellor 'should have gone further to support small businesses post-Brexit'

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond should have done more to support small businesses in his Autumn Statement amid uncertainty over Brexit.

This is the view of the Forum of Private Business (FPB), which said a number of elements of the keynote speech were particularly noteworthy, such as the £23 billion national productivity investment fund.

However, managing director Ian Cass insisted more details are needed to understand whether any of its members will "benefit from this impressive figure".

Mr Hammond's pledge to boost investment in long-term infrastructure projects across the country was also singled out at a positive announcement.

Nevertheless, the FPB is concerned that this still means little is being done to support small businesses in the short-term and therefore creating more uncertainty.

Mr Cass went on to flag up the increase in the national living wage as another positive development.

Despite this, he said it is still likely to add another level of cost to small businesses, many of whom "can't even afford to pay themselves that figure".

Mr Cass then commended the chancellor for committing to investment in 5G technology, but pointed out that many rural communities and businesses are still struggling with inadequate broadband connectivity.

"In this digital age, surely this needs addressing," he argued.

The FPB added that Mr Hammond could have used the Autumn Statement as an opportunity to simplify the UK's "huge and complicated" tax system.

Instead, it believes the Chancellor has just made "tweaks that give with one hand and take away with another".

"Our initial thoughts are that we were disappointed to see that Philip Hammond has not gone further to support small businesses post-Brexit," Mr Cass commented.

"The Forum believes the Chancellor could have been bolder in some of his decisions and done more to simplify an increasingly complicated and confusing tax system."