The LEP's Chair Professor Neal Juster has issued his response to the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.

Today’s Autumn Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought some positive news for both the residents and the business community of Greater Lincolnshire.

The announcement of a multi-million pound mayoral devolution agreement for Greater Lincolnshire is very welcome. The long-term nature of the agreement will bring around £4bn of extra funding to Greater Lincolnshire over the course of the deal. This will give Greater Lincolnshire better access to key levers that drive our economy such as infrastructure, jobs, housing and skills. Devolution could boost those parts of our economy where productivity levels still fall below the national average. It is critical that businesses remain at the heart of future negotiations.

Devolution will bring a great opportunity to release even more potential from our vibrant towns and city, giving us greater influence and control over decision-making in vital areas of our economy, from creating jobs and boosting skills to supporting our businesses and building the homes that we so desperately need.

Last year the Greater Lincolnshire LEP ran a series of devolution round tables and surveys with the business community to gauge the temperature and priorities for devolution. In total 208 businesses representing 40,000 staff responded, and they were predominantly positive about and supportive of devolution. They were keen to progress at pace so that Greater Lincolnshire would not miss out on opportunities and fall behind other neighbouring areas.

Looking at other parts of the Chancellor’s statement, the extension of tax breaks for the Humber Freeport to 2030 will ensure the longevity of the scheme and provide a longer-term investment offer which will be transformative not only to the Humber area, but also to our wider region.

The commitment to expand and extend the pioneering Made Smarter programme, which helps SME manufacturers to access technology and skills, is welcome. The programme is highly successful in the East Midlands and the news means businesses across Greater Lincolnshire can continue to benefit from this ground-breaking programme.

The Chancellor also announced £4.5bn for strategic manufacturing sectors, including £960m earmarked for clean energy. The manufacturing sector in Greater Lincolnshire remains our largest single sector, spanning food to energy production.

The permanent extension of the full expensing tax break on businesses will provide them with some stability, helping them to plan for the future, and it should help to boost investment.

Finally, the announcement that the National Living Wage is to be increased to £11.44 per hour will mean a potential boost in pay for a large number of people in Greater Lincolnshire. It is estimated that around 25% of jobs are currently paid below the National Living Wage. However, for some businesses meeting this extra expense will be a challenge when coupled with high inflation and overhead costs.

Professor Neal Juster, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.