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Round-up of the week

Posted on 27th November 2015

Osborne unveils Autumn Statement

Business leaders in the UK have responded positively to the chancellor's Autumn Statement, which was unveiled this week.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) pointed out that recent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) gave George Osborne more manoeuvring room than had been anticipated earlier.

John Longworth, director-general of the BCC, said this meant the Spending Review was not full of the "doom and gloom" that some had expected. He hailed Mr Osborne's decision to prioritise upgrading the UK's infrastructure, as improving transport links will "help move people and goods more efficiently", which in turn will help businesses grow.

"This Spending Review and Autumn Statement was about reducing our budget deficit and reshaping the state," Mr Longworth said. "It is right that the chancellor continues to provide the nation with the headroom it needs to be able to weather the choppy global waters which may appear in the years to come, and without delay."

The CBI, meanwhile, stated that the Spending Review contains a number of positives for businesses, such as a commitment to an industrial strategy and a focus on nurturing a vibrant business community.

Carolyn Fairbairn of the CBI also singled out continued infrastructure investment, increased house building and support for energy-intensive sectors as good news for UK PLC. However, she warned that the collective impact of business rates, the living wage and the Apprenticeship Levy could take many firms closer to the "tipping point".

The Institute of Directors added that the chancellor was dealt a "remarkably strong hand" by the OBR, and he has played this hand with "more spending than expected".

Simon Walker, director-general of the body, commented: "Businesses see strong public finances as the basis for sustainable economic growth, and will welcome Osborne’s confirmation that he aims to run a budget surplus by the end of the parliament."

Businesses encouraged to build stronger links with schools

The CBI has called on businesses to engage more closely with primary schools, particularly those in disadvantaged areas.

President of the body Paul Drechsler pointed out that businesses are far more likely to have links with secondary schools than with primary schools. As a result, he believes more needs to be done to address this "business blind spot" and show young people what opportunities exist for them in later life.

"It’s time for employers to make primary schools one of their primary concerns - by working with teachers and parents," he said. "It isn’t about adding things to the curriculum, but seeing where we can all contribute and collaborate to improve the lives of children."

Mr Drechsler added that businesses should support teachers and head teachers in every part of the country and inspire young people,  so they can offer up-to-date insights into the world of work.

The CBI believes that pupils from schools that have links with businesses are 13 per cent more likely to align their academic activities with their post-education ambitions. This, it said, means they have stronger chances of successfully transitioning into the labour market.

Figures from the CBI also show that nearly three-quarters of pupils who take part in partnerships with businesses feel this has helped them develop skills that enhance their employability.

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