However, he was warned that thousands of smaller firms are on the brink of collapse and needed more help. Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, said the Budget had succeeded in protecting the economy and kickstarting a recovery, leaving open the question of competitiveness in the long term. He said: “The Chancellor has gone above and beyond to protect UK businesses and people’s livelihoods through the crisis and get firms spending.
“Thousands of firms will be relieved to receive support to finish the job and get through the coming months. The Budget also has a clear eye to the future; to ensure finances are sustainable, while building confidence and investment in a lasting recovery.
“But moving Corporation Tax to 25% in one leap will cause a sharp intake of breath for many businesses and sends a worrying signal to those planning to invest in the UK.”
Jonathan Geldart, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said the Budget delivered a solid platform for many businesses to relaunch as the economy reopens.
“The extension to the furlough scheme will provide a vital cushion to support jobs as restrictions unwind and firms begin the costly process of rescaling,” he said.
“Restart grants and ongoing business rates relief give a cashflow boost to many firms that will struggle to make full productive use of their properties as restrictions linger.
“Widening income support for the self-employed is a step forward, but the Chancellor missed a trick by not providing grants for company directors, who continue to be left out in the cold.”
Dr Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said there was much to welcome, adding: “The Chancellor has listened and acted on our calls for immediate support to help struggling businesses reach the finish line of this gruelling marathon and to begin their recovery.
“Extensions to furlough, business rates relief and VAT reductions give firms a fighting chance not only to restart, but also to rebuild.
“This Budget provides reassurance to businesses, provided that they are able to restart and rebuild according to the Government’s road map.”
Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry said: “This Budget will help many small firms with their final push through to September, but there is little here to aid job creation or help people return to work.
“Ensuring the newly self-employed can now access support marks a big step forward – we’re pleased our campaign has been heard – but directors, who appear to have been left out yet again, will be incredibly disappointed.
“Thousands of small businesses are on the brink of collapse and thousands more are suffering from low confidence as cash reserves dwindle.”
Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said: “Given the difficult circumstances facing the Chancellor, industry will welcome the certainty and clarity he has provided about the route forward.
“This statement pursues a positive and fair middle road which balances the short-term need to avoid squeezing the recovery before it has started, whilst avoiding any artificial boost given the inevitable strong bounce-back once the economy begins to open up.”