Food industry bodies have responded with a mixed reaction to details laid out in the Chancellor’s Growth Plan for the UK economy.

The government aim is to achieve a trend growth rate of 2.5%. According to a statement by the Chancellor, the Growth Plan also looks to “[secure] sustainable funding for public services and [improve] living standards for everyone.”

The Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, delivered the Growth Plan 2022 on 23rd September, which had been widely regarded as a ‘mini-budget’. He also outlined the government’s energy measures and said that its help for businesses would reduce peak inflation by 5%.

Focus on growth

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said that this plan will “stimulate opportunities” at food and drink manufacturing sites in the UK.

FDF chief executive Karen Betts said the food industry “welcomes the range of measures” set out in the mini budget, from the cancellation of the planned rise in corporation tax to a higher annual investment allowance and the creation of new investment zones.  

She added that the Chancellor’s proposals will help the sector to “focus on growth, investment, and competitiveness.”

Betts said: “If these measures are combined with the simplification of regulation in our sector, or deregulation where that’s needed, then this change in the direction of economic policy will create real opportunities.”

Additional taxes 

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson welcomed the measures, but added that that any mention of business rates was missing from the announcement. According to Dickinson, rates are set to jump by 10% next April, “inflicting another £800 million in unaffordable tax rises on already squeezed retailers.” 

She added: “It is inevitable that such additional taxes will ultimately be passed through to families in the form of higher prices. There is still time for the government to act. Freezing the business rates multiplier will stimulate investment and will allow retailers to focus on what’s important – keeping prices down for households.”

Proposed policy announcements focused on areas including:

  • Investment, “by creating the right conditions” and removing barriers to the flow of private capital, whether taxes or regulation
  • Skilled employment, achieved by helping the unemployed into work and those in jobs secure better paid work
  • Infrastructure is to be aided by accelerating the construction of “vital infrastructure projects” by liberalising the planning system and streamlining consultation and approval requirements
  • Enterprise, helped by “cutting red tape” and freeing business to grow and invest.

The government also confirmed that they will automatically “sunset” EU regulations by December 2023, requiring departments to review, replace or repeal retained EU law.