Chancellor urges Peterborough businesses to fast forward job creating investment

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has urged Peterborough business leaders to fast track planned investment to help deliver a national jobs boost after Covid.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 2:33 pm
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, visiting the Openreach training centre at Westwood EMN-210528-134348009

Mr Sunak says company bosses should seek to take advantage of his new super-deduction tax break on investment unveiled in the Budget three months ago and intended to power the national recovery after Covid-19.

He says there will never be a better time for businesses to carry out their jobs-creating investment plans.

His appeal to the city’s industry chiefs came during a tour of the engineers’ training school in Saville Road, Westwood, run by the communications giant Openreach.

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Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, visiting the Openreach training centre at Westwood EMN-210528-134253009

It has just announced a huge boost in investment as the company looks to double the number of homes in difficult to reach areas that it plans to connect to full fibre broadband and which in turn will be fuelled by a huge staff recruitment drive.

Its boss heralded the super-deduction as a ‘game changer’ for the business.

Mr Sunak said: “Some people think jobs fall out of the sky from nowhere but they don’t.

“Businesses create jobs and that is what the super-deduction is about.

Openreach CEO Clive Selley at the Openreach training centre at Westwood EMN-210528-134157009

“It is a massive incentive for businesses to invest right now and by investing they create jobs right now and that is what’s happening here at Openreach.

“This is what we need - this is what’s going to drive our recovery.

“7,000 new jobs because of the super-deduction and broadband going out across country.”

Mr Sunak said the super-deduction was a tax cut for business investment and that for every pound that a business invest it gets a 25p tax cut.

He said: “We’ve never done anything like it on this scale before in this country.

“And the reason I was interested in it is historically as a country we have not invested enough and we know that businesses over the last year have built up a war chest of cash of over £100 billion, that businesses have saved.

“I wanted to encourage them to invest that right now in our country, in our recovery and create lots of jobs in the process and that is what is happening here.

“To companies in Peterborough I’d say talk to your accountants and think about all the plans that you have over the next few years because now is the most attractive time for you to make those investments in your factories, in your businesses to expand them because you are going to get a big tax help from the government to do so.”

Afterwards,Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said the super-deduction had driven the company’s new announcement of a huge recruitment drive and a £15 million investment over five years.

Openreach has pledged to create 7,000 new jobs - with 1,000 new employees taken on this year - as it looks to deliver a new commitment to bring ultrafast broadband to 6.2 million homes in difficult to reach areas.

These will include a range of Peterborough villages of Castor, Thorney, Ramsey, Wansford, Manea, Newborough, Wansford, Warboys and Wisbech St Mary Castor, which can expect work to begin in 12 months.

Mr Selley said Mr Sunak’s new two year super-deduction on business investment had enabled the company to raise its ambitions.

He said: “We are making a big announcement about fibre broadband deployment across the UK.

“We are roughly doubling our commitment to build the full fibre in rural areas of the UK.

“We had committed to 3.2 million properties but now we’ve said we’ll do another three million properties - so that’s 6.2 million with no government subsidy.

“And to power that build we are going to hire employ a lot more people - another 7,000 either directly at Openreach or in the supply chain and the first 1,000 people will be hired this year.”

Under the two year super-deduction programme, businesses can claim a 130 per cent capital allowance on investment in plant and machinery.

Mr Selley said: “The Chancellor is encouraging big infrastructure investment and a fast start.

“Waking up in two years and doing it is no good we’ll have missed the window of opportunity.

“He wanted a fast start and we are doing a fast start.

“We have raised our build target and said we’ll do many more homes in rural areas and we’ve said we’ll escalate the hiring of people - the creation of jobs immediately.

“Without this new super-deduction this would not have happened to this scale and at this pace.

“The super-deduction was a game changer for us.”

Mr Selley said the Covid pandemic had highlighted the importance of high speed, high quality and highly reliable broadband connections and that full fibre as the ‘gold standard’.

He said: “Our staff have done a great job over the Covid year. They have basically kept the UK connected.

“It’s broadband that has enabled eight million people to work from home.

“It’s also highlighted for us that customers value very high quality, high speed, highly reliable broadband and is one of the key reasons why we want to accelerate the full fibre programme.

“Full fibre is very high speed and has very high reliability and it’s very clear that is where we have to take the nation.

“I think this business of hybrid working at home and in the office will be with us for ever now and the enabler for this - the sort of Rolls Royce quality enabler - is fibre broadband to your home as well as your office location.

“We have to get a national deployment done - that is the mission.

“We built to two million premises last year and will try to build to three million this year.

“Two years from now I’ll need to be building to four million a year so we need to scale this programme and get it done. Full fibre is the gold standard.

Mr Selley added: “We are serving up the levelling up agenda - this isn’t only about the South East and London, we are going to build nationally.”