IT’s fair to say that reaction to Chancellor Osborne’s latest budget has been mixed.
Some have praised the Chancellor for sticking to his guns and refusing to bow to pressure, while others have accused him of attempting to do too little, too late.
Amongst the dissenters is John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, who said, while there was much for businesses to welcome in the Chancellor’s statement, he should have gone further to support enterprise and growth, by, for instance, scrapping increases in business rates.
He added: “We are at an unprecedented moment in our economic history, and the government should be doing everything in its power to get the economy moving.
“Many of the Chancellor’s measures are positive but may come too late, particularly for smaller and medium-sized companies. We need urgency, scale and delivery today.”
One of the constant cries from businesses, large and small, across the country is for a respite from the constant annual increases in business rates. Only businesses with premises of tiny proportions, little more than the size of a double garage, can hope for any relief from the burden of business rates.
However, the Chancellor’s plans to help the smallest companies increase their staff levels, by cutting their employer’s national insurance bills by £2,000 will give many of the smallest businesses a boost in confidence, at a time when they surely need it. The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the move, and claimed the Chancellor’s Budget had gone some way to restoring the confidence of small businesses.
The FSB claims the new housing initiative will help to reinvigorate the construction sector, where confidence has been low. It also welcomed the decision to scrap the planned 3p increase in fuel duty and plans for a new Business Bank that will help to provide much needed access to capital for small firms.
The Chancellor must have been encouraged by the latest employment figures, before he even started to speak, which revealed the actual number of people in work had increased by more than 130,000 to 29.7 million. However, this was tempered by the increase in unemployment, which rose by 7,000 to stand at 2.5 million.