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HTA comments on Budget

Published: 12 March 2020 - Alex Fordham

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivered the Government’s first budget since the election today. As expected many of the announcements focused on providing support to the economy in dealing with coronavirus.

James Clark, director of Policy and Communications at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) commented: “Today’s budget provides support to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), including in horticulture,  to minimise the impact of coronavirus. Measures including assistance with Statutory Sick Pay for SMEs and the abolition of business rates for small businesses for 2020 are all helpful short term measures for our members in dealing with the immediate impact of coronavirus. The devil will be in the detail of how members will fully benefit.

“With regard to medium and longer-term business support we welcome the long-awaited review of business rates and we will ensure our members’ views are communicated to Government when further detail is available.

“It is positive to hear that the Government is making a further commitment to their environmental pledges with the announcement of plans to plant 30,000 trees over the next five years. Support for nurseries is critical to build and enhance UK production capabilities for plants as well as trees to help deliver the Government’s ambition to create a greener Britain.”

Key announcements

  • Coronavirus  - measures to support SME businesses paying increased Statutory Sick Pay, reduction of business rates for small retailers, support from HMRC on tax and a temporary loan scheme via the British Business Bank.
  • Business rates – launch of the Government’s review into business rates, with a consultation to be launched soon and a final report in the Autumn 2020 Budget.
  • National Minimum Wage  - a possible further increase in the Minimum Wage from 2024.
  • Tax – Entrepreneurs Relief to be reformed and red diesel banned for some sectors, excluding agriculture.
  • Tree planting – a £640 million “nature for climate” fund launched to support tree planting and peatland restoration.
  • Rural connectivity - £5 billion investment into the Shared Rural Network, which aims to increase mobile and broadband coverage in rural areas. 


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