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Autumn Statement Puts Business And Skills In The Spotlight

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivered his Autumn Statement today, and there was a strong focus on skills and business.

The full impact of the announcement upon the council will not be known until the Local Government Finance Settlement, expected on 18 December.

However, there is a strong emphasis on supporting the development of businesses and skills, something that Borough of Poole is already commited to, to ensure future growth of the town. Business rates will be capped at 2% next year, there will be a discount of up to £1,000 for all small retailers with rateable values below £50,000 for two years and there will be an extension to small business rate relief for another year from April 2014.

Cllr Elaine Atkinson, Leader of the Council, Borough of Poole, said: "I am pleased that the Government has recognised that local government has led the way during these austere times and are supporting our commitment to business.

"We have lobbied for caps on borrowing through the Housing Revenue Account to be raised to allow us to build much needed affordable homes so we are pleased to see this has been recognised. I am sure that people will appreciate the decision to offer free school meals to children under seven as this should aid concentration and nutrition, as well as ensure that children learn about healthy eating from a young age.

"Investments in apprenticeships and traineeships is in line with the work we are doing locally and emphasises our commitment to the future growth of Poole. We will await the Local Government Finance Settlement with interest so that we can assess the exact implications today's statement will have for Borough of Poole."

During the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced plans to offer direct funding to employers to provide apprenticeships and an aim to create 20,000 extra apprenticeships nationally over the next two years.

Lawrence Vincent, Principal of The Bournemouth and Poole College, said: "The College works extensively with local businesses to create apprenticeships for young people.  The prominence of apprenticeship reform in the Autumn Statement has brought the importance of training to national attention. I hope this will be the catalyst for further apprenticeship growth across the region."

Today's announcement also revealed that forecast unemployment is expected to fall from 7.6% this year to 7% in 2015. The current unemployment rate in Poole is estimated to be just 4.3%.