The Horticultural Trades Association says the industry needs “longer-term support” with a recession likely, following the Autumn Statement issued today by chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
Jennifer Pheasey, director of public affairs at the HTA, says: “We welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to supporting business over the next five years, and measures on Business Rates and employer NICs, which will soften the blow for some of our members, but we need a guarantee of longer-term support to offset the impact of the recession.
“While the Energy Price Guarantee for the next year is also needed, this scheme will not give confidence to businesses in our sector based on the current impact of rising energy costs on their everyday business operations.
“The Chancellor noted stability and growth as two priorities for the Government. The horticulture sector needs stability to allow for growth and investment in jobs, which can’t be done without the right policies and support. Environmental Horticulture has the potential to significantly contribute towards achieving economic, climate change and health ambitions for green industries and the levelling-up strategy – both were key references in today’s Autumn Budget speech.
“Employment figures in the UK are yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. As HTA represents 1,500 members in a sector which supports nearly 700,000 employees and contributes almost £28bn to UK GDP, it is well placed to contribute to green growth ambitions.
“The impact of seasonal labour shortages will be critical for our industry ahead of the growing season, and greater flexibility will be needed on the Apprenticeship Levy scheme and access would be supported to enable the sector to nurture a highly skilled workforce.
“We will continue to work closely with our members over the coming weeks and months to assess the impact of today’s statement.”