£20m investment into apprenticeships and further education

Government budget to commit investment into apprenticeships and further education

Melvin Wingfield, a director at precision engineering firm A&M EDM in the West Midlands, did not receive everything on his budget wish list but admitted Hammond was constrained by political concerns, notably Brexit.

“I’m neither disappointed nor elated – he’s got very little room to manoeuvre because of the decision to leave the EU,” said Wingfield.

He welcomed the commitment to apprenticeships and further education, which included an extra £20m for colleges. “The increase in apprenticeships is good news, but I would like to see them valued more, so people who don’t go to university aspire to the role.”

Hammond’s plan to allocate a further £2.3bn for investment in research and development and to increase the main R&D tax credit to 12% also received the thumbs up.

Founded in 2002 in Sandwell, with two employees and a £17,000 loan, A&M now turns over nearly £5m a year and supplies components to car firms including Jaguar Land Rover, aerospace businesses such as United Technologies, and Formula One racing teams.

Business rates are a major cost for the company, said Wingfield. So the move to bring forward by two years to next April the switch from the retail prices index to the lower consumer prices index for the annual rise was appreciated.

He had wanted to see Hammond reduce corporation tax and introduce further incentives for companies to invest in capital equipment, but accepts this could have meant tax rises elsewhere. “We need to encourage manufacturing here – the myth that we don’t manufacture needs to be crushed, manufacturing is still a very important part of the economy.”

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