GEORGE Osborne’s budget was not exactly a giveaway - and the relatively modest measures announced yesterday have been greeted with relief if not rousing cheers in Cumbria.
Phil Walker, the vice-chairman of CAMRA Westmorland, said scrapping the beer duty escalator and knocking a penny off the price of a pint of beer were welcome but he cautioned that other cost pressures meant South Lakeland’s pubs would continue to struggle.
“Brewers are facing rising price of hops and other raw materials while publicans still face high business costs,” he said. “What the Chancellor should have done is reduce VAT for pubs to help them compete with supermarkets.”
Alan Dickinson, the Cumbria chairman of the National Farmers’ Union, welcomed the decision to abandon the planned fuel duty increase in September.
“Fuel is a big issue with farmers. We can’t work without machinery on the farm or vehicles to take livestock to the market or to get supplies. The farmer is facing enough cost pressures as it is with feed costs rising when we can’t get any more for what we produce.”
The one per cent fall in Corpration Tax to 20 per cent was applauded by Neil McNicholas, Cumbria chairman of the Institute of Directors.
“The county’s businesseses will be glad that George Osborne has also continued the downward pressure on Corporation Tax,” he said. “Britain must become the most competitive place to do business, and lower taxes will attract welcome investment from abroad.” R
ob Johnston, Chief Executive, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce said it was ‘disappointing, but not surprising’ to see that growth forecasts had been reduced to 0.6 per cent this year, with only 1.8 per cent forecast next year.
“This reinforces further the need for significant measures to boost growth,” he said. “The Budget goes nowhere near far enough.”
CLA Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said George Osborne’s decision to give every UK company an allowance of £2,000 against its Employer’s National Insurance (NI) bill from April 2014 will particularly help smaller firms.
Miss Fairburn said: “Many of our members are running small or medium-sized firms in the countryside and this measure - described by Mr Osborne as the Budget’s largest tax cut - could prove a big boost to the rural economy. Clearly, it will help smaller companies much more than big corporations.”
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: "I hope that the positive measures in the budget make a difference but struggling families and businesses know they have been here before: every year George Osborne stands up and says his plan will make things better but every year the country's dire economic position gets worse and things get harder for people."
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron welcomed the news that 200,000 people in Cumbria would be receiving a tax cut.
"The Chancellor announced in the budget that the tax threshold will be raised to £10,000 from April 2014 one year sooner than had been expected, meaning that almost three million lower-income people will be taken out of tax altogether," he said.
Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart said the budget was good news for the small and medium size firms that employ 92 per cent of the private sector employees in the constituency.
"The Chancellor’s announcement of the employment allowance for every business and charity, which removes £2000 from every employers’ National Insurance bill is very good news. It will mean that many Cumbrian businesses can take on their first employee at £22,000 or four employees on the minimum wage, without paying jobs tax."