CBI: business needed stable & consistent budget & George Osborne delivered

“Stability and consistency are what businesses need to grow and prosper. This Budget sets the tone, providing a clear plan for fiscal health and growth.

“This Budget has some encouraging measures to help businesses create jobs for the benefit of all.

“The brighter fiscal picture has allowed the Chancellor to recalibrate his deficit reduction plans. In the next Parliament this fiscal breathing space should be used to achieve intelligent reductions in public spending, together with much-needed infrastructure and innovation.

“With business investment a crucial driver of growth, the Chancellor has signalled his intention to continue the Annual Investment Allowance. We want it to be made permanent in the Autumn Statement at £250,000 – this will fire the UK’s economic kiln by spurring smaller firms to invest in plant and machinery.

“The reduction of the headline rate of Corporation Tax to 20 per cent next month, is a meaningful step in making the UK the most competitive tax regime in the G20 and will help to attract investment.

“The oil and gas industry, which supports 450,000 UK jobs and is a major contributor to GDP, has been given a much-needed boost with the reduction to the supplementary charge and other incentives. This will help address concerns over job losses and investment freezes, but pressures remain due to low oil prices.

“Giving savers greater freedom over their pensions, including creating a secondary annuities market, boosts choice but after a period of flux what’s needed now is breathing space for the industry and consumers to get to grips with all the changes.”

On the bank levy:
“Banks play an important role in financing the economy, so repeated changes to the bank levy are unhelpful because they create uncertainty and have a negative impact investment and lending.

“While it is right that banks should pay their fair share, banks like any business need consistency around their tax liabilities.”

On the diverted profits tax:
“It is disappointing that the Government is moving out of step with the OECD Base Erosion and Profits Shifting process for updating the international tax rules. This puts UK firms at a competitive disadvantage and could put off would-be investors.”

On regional and local growth:
“We need business to boom in all corners of the UK and innovative policies to support our regional entrepreneurs. New city deals, enterprise zones and a dedicated Northern transport strategy will help to secure job creation and investment across the country.

“The ability for some areas to retain 100 per cent of additional business rate revenue will better link businesses with their communities, but we need to go further on reform.

“The current business rates system is clunky, outdated and holds back the high street.”

On exports:
“Doubling UKTI funding to support British exports to China will help UK businesses tap into the growing middle class in Asia.

“The UK overtook the Netherlands, becoming the second largest trading partner with China in the EU, in January, and this extra support could help to strengthen our trading position yet further.”

On compensation for energy intensive industries:
“While not the full commitment that industry needed to see, bringing forward the small-scale Feed in Tariff compensation for energy-intensive industries will provide some relief for these sectors.”

On housing:
“The new housing ISA offers a boost to first-time buyers looking to save for a deposit and get on the housing ladder. However, there is an urgent need to ramp up the supply of new homes to deliver the 240,000 needed each year.

“The creation of 20 new Housing Zones is a step in the right direction, but we need to up the pace of delivery to ensure that house prices remain in reach for first-time buyers.”

On the lifetime allowance:
“Reductions in the lifetime allowance are concerning for existing savers, but businesses and employees will welcome the Chancellor’s protection of the annual allowance. Maintaining incentives to save for the long-term is vital, and workplace pensions are critical to this.”

On the National Minimum Wage:
“The National Minimum Wage has been one of the most successful policies of recent years thanks to the independence of the Commission – its politicisation is worrying and could damage our economy.

“All parties should let the independent Low Pay Commission do its job – raising the minimum wage meaningfully without damaging the employment of low paid workers.”