SMALL businesses in Uttoxeter’s beleaguered high street will be given the chance to succeed after measures announced in the Autumn statement, George Osbourne has claimed.
The chancellor spoke to the Advertiser while visiting JCB to personally thank its workers for their part in the UK’s fledgling recovery.
He hailed a ‘great day for British business’ as the digger giant announced a £150 million investment in two new factories, including one in Beamhurst, and 2,500 new jobs by 2018.
However, the occupant of 11 Downing Street was then grilled on whether his Autumn statement would do enough to help Uttoxeter High Street.
He expressed his ‘concern’ at three high street shops announcing their closure in the space on six weeks but insisted he is doing enough to help them.
Mr Osbourne’s comments came after he declined to freeze business rates that have been a factor in the closure of all three stores.
He said: “We’ve made a cap on business rate hikes, which will benefit all businesses, but a £1,000 discount for high street shops in Uttoxeter will mean, in real terms, those firms will in fact see a drop in rates and many won’t pay any rates at all.
“Andrew came to me with ideas on the A50 improvements and he’s also played a huge part in beer duty freezes, which will really help Burton.
“He also came to me with concerns about Uttoxeter high street and many will be better-off after the Autumn statement than they would’ve been if we’d have just imposed a rates freeze.
“Small shops in Uttoxeter will get a real boost from these incentives and they represent precisely the hard-working values we support.”
Mr Osbourne said small firms would benefit from his removed of national insurance payments – or ‘jobs tax’ – on employees under the age of 21.
Uttoxeter residents have often held the view that Tesco has taken business away from their high street.
However, when responding to questions on some Labour groups’ calls for an additional tax to be placed on supermarkets, Mr Osbourne dismissed the idea.
He said: “We need all our businesses to be growing, whether they’re supermarkets, JCB or small Uttoxeter shops.
“They need confidence to take workers on and it’s not a good idea to increase tax when we need jobs to be created.”
The chancellor added his voice to those praising newly-announced changes to the McDonalds and Derby Road roundabouts.
He said: “This country went through a very deep recession in 2008 and 2009 and we’ve got to learn from what went wrong.
“We need to create a government and welfare system that lives within its means, but improving our road networks is important so companies have the confidence to expand.
“JCB could’ve opened plants all over the world but they chose to make this expansion in the UK.”