Swindon-based Banks, Chartered Accountants described the Budget as one of the most interesting and intriguing for years and said it could be good for the town’s businesses.
Director Richard Mathews said some of the measures – such as the cut in National Insurance paid by employers and the reduced Capital Gains Tax – would be a welcome boost Swindon firms.
But he added that more detail was needed, and it was disappointing that some of the measures will not be introduced for nearly two years.
“For the first time for some years I think we can say we’ve had a really interesting and intriguing Budget, but we do need more detail,” said Richard. “The cut in National Insurance through the Employment Allowance, for example, is great news but I don’t think it’s necessarily automatic and we’ll need to see what employers have to do to qualify.
“The scrapping of the planned rise in fuel duty, reduction in Corporation Tax and raising of the personal allowance to £10,000 will all help to reduce individual’s and company’s tax liabilities, which is welcome news.
“We’re also pleased to see the Chancellor is introducing a general anti-avoidance rule to overcome tax avoidance measures, but we’d like to see how effective this will be in practice.”
He added that the newly announced Help-to-Buy scheme, to enable people with deposits for properties to obtain mortgages, was a welcome boost for the construction industry which would feed down into the support businesses that operate around construction.
British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth said the Chancellor could have done more for business.
“While there is much for business to welcome in the Chancellor’s statement, such as reviewing the MPC’s remit, scrapping the rise on fuel duty, and putting £3.5bn into helping buyers afford new homes, he and his Cabinet colleagues should have gone further to support enterprise and growth, such as scrapping damaging increases in business rates.
“We are at an unprecedented moment in economic history, and the Government should be doing everything in its power to get the economy moving. Many of the Chancellor’s measures were targeted at larger corporates, and those that will benefit smaller companies will not take effect until 2015, which is too late. We need urgency, scale and delivery today.”
The Federation of Small Business welcomed the Help-to-Buy scheme. “The housing initiative will help reinvigorate the construction sector in which many of our members operate,” it said. “National Insurance cut goes beyond what we were asking for and we are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty.”
The British Property Federation welcomed the five-fold Government funding increase to kick start build-to-rent schemes. The £200m made available in December’s Autumn Statement will be expanded to £1bn, and will provide equity or loan finance to support development stage finance.
Federation director of policy Ian Fletcher said: “It’s encouraging the Government’s confidence in build to rent has been reciprocated and we are delighted to see that the equity funding was heavily oversubscribed. Working in partnership with Government the sector should deliver an exciting and quality array of homes for renters.”
The Institute of Directors praised the Budget. In a statement, it said: “The new allowance to reduce the tax on employing people is a welcome boost for businesses who are working hard to grow. The private sector has done a huge amount to improve the employment figures, and it is right that they are rewarded for doing so. This will see more people helped out of unemployment, which is a very good thing.”
While the 1p cut in beer duty was welcomed by the brewing and pub industries, the Wine and Spirits Association was unhappy. Chief executive Miles Beale said: “This is bad news for the UK wine and spirits sector, with year-on-year duty increases hitting consumers and businesses hard. It makes little sense to single out beer, particularly as there is a legal precedent to suggest government is unable to do so.”
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, described the Budget as “a job half done”.
He said it contained some helpful measures on business taxation and, some signs of re-prioritising spending for growth but added: “The Chancellor had over £11bn of under-spending in his arsenal and should have done more to fire growth now, particularly through accelerating investment in infrastructure. With forecasts for business investment scaled back heavily for the next five years, the growth challenge we face is growing.
“Looking to the Spending Review, with the Chancellor sticking to his fiscal plans, this can’t just be about tighter spending controls. It must also be about a more radical of shift of spending towards growth.”
More reaction from business organisations will follow shortly . . .