‘Tough times ahead’ despite growth in 2015

ggfThe Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) has stated that while there will be ‘tough times ahead’ for the industry, businesses can take some comfort from the news that economic growth is expected to rise by 3% in 2015, following last week’s Autumn Statement.

Chancellor George Osborne delivered his final Autumn Statement, seen as a chance to set out future tax and spending plans, as well as set out the state of the nation’s finances, before next year’s General Election in May.

The Chancellor hailed Britain as the “fastest growing of any advanced economy in the world” and stated that against a difficult global backdrop, “Britain has achieved higher growth, lower unemployment and a falling deficit.”

The GGF had written to the Chancellor eight weeks before his Autumn Statement announcement highlighting the GGF’s campaigns and raising members’ concerns.

Nigel Rees, GGF Group chief executive commented: “As had been anticipated, it was good to hear the Chancellor confirm the increase in funding of £100m to support homeowners installing energy efficient measures in their properties. However, it remains to be seen how much of this funding will help homeowners install energy efficient windows.”

“It was also pleasing to see a drive to increase new builds and positive to hear that the Chancellor’s statement has included some measures that will benefit small businesses, such as expanding the British Business Bank, freezing fuel duty as well as doubling business rate relief for small businesses for another year.”

Giles Willson, GGF deputy chief executive and director of Technical Affairs added: “Some of our members’ work on the correlation between house sales and replacement windows appears to have had some influence on the Chancellor announcing a significant change in stamp duty. However, it is a pity that the Government hasn’t had some joined up thinking on stamp duty and energy efficiency. We would like to see the Chancellor using it as an incentive to increase energy efficiency home improvements. However, being optimistic, with this change in stamp duty we hope it motivates the property market and in turn drives the home improvement sector.”

Nigel Rees summarised: “Though there weren’t many great surprises in this Autumn Statement, businesses can take some comfort that the economic growth is expected to rise by 3% in 2015 and though there will still be tough times ahead, there is stability with slow, gradual improvement.”

Some key points of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement (compiled by the GGF’s political advisors GK Strategy):
• There will be a £31 million investment in new energy security and innovation centres
• The government is allocating £25 million of funding in 2015-16 for first time heating systems in off-gas-grid homes in England
• As announced on 7 October 2014, the government will increase funding by £100 million over 2014-15 and 2015-16 to support households installing energy efficiency improvements
• National Insurance will be abolished for young apprentices
• Universal credit work allowances will be frozen for another year
• There will be an end to unemployment benefits for migrants with few job prospects
• The tax-free personal allowance will rise to £10,600
• The higher rate tax threshold will be go to £42,385 next year
• Stamp duty is to be redesigned and only apply to the part of the property price that falls within that band
• The 55% death tax on unused pensions is to be abolished
• The small business rate relief will

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