Budget: Lancashire's reaction

Lancashire's businesses warmly welcomed Chancellor George Osborne's 2013 Budget, which included a number of small cuts aimed at SMEs.

Many other organisations pointed to business-friendly measures, such as a £3bn fund to develop the UK's infrastructure, reducing corporation tax and an employer allowance on national insurance, as positive moves that will help stimulate the Lancashire economy and aid growth.

David Grant, managing director of Moorhouse's Brewery, said: "The insidious duty escalator was a stealth tax on the brewing and pub industry. It is great news that it is gone. It was due to run until next year, so, combined with the 1p off, the scrapping means that 11p should be saved on a pint of full duty paid beer over the next two years. This will be a real help for the consumer and pubs in these extremely difficult times. It is the first time for many years that a Chancellor has acknowledged the importance of the brewing industry to the economy."

William Ngan, chartered tax adviser and corporate associate at law firm Brabners Chaffe Street
Jeremy Hartley, managing director at the Eric Wright Group, said: “There are a number of positives that came from the Chancellor’s Budget announcements and we are particularly pleased with those relevant to infrastructure spending and house-buying.
“Having recently completed a number of projects for Network Rail, which is a new venture for our civil engineering division, the £3bn a year allocated for infrastructure projects including railways is certainly welcome news. It means that there ought to be plenty of opportunities for further growth in this area, although competition will no doubt be fierce."
Darrell Matthews, regional director of the IoD North West, said: “We applaud this budget. The Chancellor has stuck to his guns and held his nerve - which is exactly what we wanted to see. Deficit reduction is not an optional policy, it is an absolute necessity, and he is right to reject the siren calls to abandon it.

“This budget appears to help some of the North West’s key sectors – Shale Gas is a new industry and needs support, and the construction sector will benefit from the mortgage announcements today. The more helpful tax regimes for employing people will also help growth, as will the recent child care announcements which will encourage female entrepreneurs. Overall, an aspirational budget.”

Tony Medcalf, tax partner at Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors

“What Mr Osborne has tried to do is give the message that Britain is open for business by also doing things like increasing the rate of R&D relief available to businesses, making it a more attractive place for international businesses to invest and innovate here.

Melanie Christie, North West regional director of the ICAEW, said: “Whilst the economic news confirmed many of our fears, this budget clearly places an emphasis on helping businesses grow. Doing more to help SMEs create jobs, giving them access to professional advice and encouraging lending will continue to make the UK the most attractive place to innovate and run a business. Together, lots of small measures announced today may just add up to a growth strategy which businesses can work with.

Gary Lovatt, FSB regional chairman for Lancashire, said: “A number of measures in the Chancellor’s fourth Budget are potentially a good boost for small businesses. With growth forecasts downgraded there was never going to be any likelihood of a huge giveaway. Further reductions in corporation tax should be a boost to enterprise, while attempts to boost the housing market we hope will filter through and boost the construction sector. The cancellation of the fuel rise in September will help motorists while we hope the beer duty cut will help the pub and hospitality sector.

Michelle Thompson, partner and head of conveyancing at Forbes Solicitors, said: "First time buyers and people looking to move up the property ladder are winners in the 2013 Budget as George Osborne announced £3.5bn in capital spending over three years to shared equity loans. It is also great news for people looking to move up the property ladder who have a 5% deposit, but can’t afford to raise the rest, as there is now a 20% interest free loan available for the first five years provided the value of the property does not exceed £600,000. It is all positive news at a time when there are already signs of improvement in the property market.”

John Cridland, CBI director general,

“Small and medium-sized businesses will be particularly encouraged that there was money available for the Chancellor to cut the jobs tax through a new employment allowance. We also need to remember the impact of business rates on the hard-pressed high street.”

Tim Mills, associate director at Blackburn accountancy and business advisory firm, Pierce

“While £1.6m of funding for extra growth was mentioned, we need to see the details behind these schemes. For businesses with staff who commute, employers will be able to offer their staff up to £10,000 per person in tax-free annual season ticket loans.

Keith Melling, head of corporate at Napthens solicitors, said: “We’ve seen a series of measures that should help businesses, particularly with the reduction in corporation tax down to 20 per cent and the cut in National Insurance Contributions, which should stimulate further employment particularly in the SME sector. However, I am unsure of the level of impact there will be from the AIM stamp duty cancellation as few companies have been tempted to seek public listings. Overall businesses will welcome the measures but I am sure many trade bodies and groups might have wished he had gone further.”

Colin Tice, tax expert at Cassons Chartered Accountants, said: "The outlook for the UK economy is not as bright as predicted in the Chancellor’s Budget Statement.

"George Osborne told the House of Commons that Government borrowing is falling and as a share of GDP will drop from 7.4% in 2013-14 to 5% in 2015-16.

“What it means is that the fiscal deficit, the amount the public sector borrows each year, is forecast to fall. But the official forecast is that the public sector will actually borrow £22bn more next year than this year. Only then will the annual amount of borrowing start to fall. And the annual amount of borrowing is not forecast to fall below this year’s level until 2016/17.

“All the while, there will be extra borrowing each year so public sector net debt, the total amount owed by UK plc, will keep rising. Until Government borrowing actually does reduce, coupled with real growth in GDP, the long term outlook for the UK economy does not look good.”

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