John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “The Budget unveiled today recognises both short-term electoral horizons and long-term economic needs. The Chancellor’s focus on business growth and prosperity will receive a warm welcome from businesses of all sizes.
“Businesses in every corner of the UK want more sustainable public finances, and they also want governments to take steps to support growth. Once again, it appears that the Chancellor has pulled off a difficult balancing act, maintaining fiscal discipline while ensuring that necessary deficit reduction doesn’t undermine the UK’s growth prospects.
“Lower business taxes, allowances for investment, and targeted support for sectors, regions and small companies all contribute to confidence, investment and job creation.
“Yet the Chancellor avoided the temptation to use newfound windfalls for gimmicks. His focus on fiscal responsibility will play well with business audiences.”
Matthew Sanders, CEO of Brookfield Rose, parent group to thirteen companies including leading temporary labour procurer de Poel and ethical payroll company Paraplus, said:
“The sun is starting to shine and Britain is walking tall again”, declares Chancellor George Osborne. After weeks of political watchers scrutinising media reports surrounding Budget 2015, the final one of this Parliament, and leaks circulating amongst newspapers, blogs and social media, he has finally revealed plans for the country in today’s announcement.
Whilst some critics went as far to say that the Budget has become a one-stop-shop for tax and spending announcements, today’s statement has shown that, on some issues, Osborne is willing to think the previously unthinkable.
I am fully in support of the Government’s promise that millions of workers will get a wage increase, with the minimum wage going up by 20p to £6.70 an hour, the biggest real-terms rise in seven years. This means that more than 1.4 million low paid workers will benefit from the 3% hike in October.
It was also decided that the statutory minimum for younger workers and apprentices will jump up by 57p to £3.30, an increase of 20 per cent – again, the biggest ever rise. Having employed apprentices for a number of years across all of my businesses, I have witnessed first-hand the real value they can add to any organisation, and so am delighted that this decision has been made. Whilst there is still a great deal of work to be done, this minimum wage increase will mean more financial security for all and is another step forward in the right direction.
As a multiple business owner and entrepreneur, I was also interested to hear the announcements surrounding entrepreneur’s relief growth plans in the North West and delighted to hear performance was strong last year. A large proportion of my businesses are based in the North of the UK, and so I welcome Government’s plans to grant new powers and continue to build our Northern powerhouse; it is a thriving and profitable economy and great place to do business.
Conclusively, the two realities from today are that it was George Osborne’s last red box, and that it came at an opportune time just before an election, so it was always going to be a bold announcement. Following this, I will be very intrigued to see if our current Government is awarded with another term. Whatever happens in the General Election in two months’ time, I for one am very hopeful that this year’s Budget will start to bring forward more positive change.
Dr Mike Kelly, founder and CEO of Manchester-based DataCentred, said: “Infrastructure investment is crucial to creating a connected country but if the Chancellor wants to improve growth and economic standards outside London he must ensure the North is sufficiently digitally connected.
Supporting technology enterprise is key to establishing the regions as a fundamental part of the UK business economy; digital, creative and content led businesses are particularly thriving in the North and provide a wealth of services which in turn help other businesses to succeed.
The scale of innovation and the number of businesses which choose to operate outside the capital are growing every day but have been largely overlooked by developments in other digital hubs such as London and Cambridge. There is no reason why cities such as Manchester and Leeds should not be seen as the ‘go-to’ locations for innovative enterprise technology and the ability for Manchester to set business rates at a local level will enable the North West to attract more innovative and high growth tech companies.
We must encourage a creative ecosystem of pro-Northern groups, individuals and businesses across the public and private sector which can learn from each other, share skills and resources and capitalise on the disruptive growth which follows.
Only when the North is seen as a significant ‘tech city’ competitor will we have a truly connected country and a thriving Northern Powerhouse.”
David Grimes, Managing Director at My Parcel Delivery, said: “It was great to hear continued scrutiny of the business rates system following last year’s Autumn Statement.
However, the review currently being undertaken suggests that the outcome may actually be fiscally neutral since businesses will still be paying the same amount overall. I feel business rates actually need to be scrapped altogether for the smallest companies if a reform is to have any impact on entrepreneurship or our growing SMEs.
From an employer’s perspective it was great to hear that the personal allowance rate will increase to £11,000, giving around 27 million people a £200 tax cut. This is also a significant boost to consumer spending power.”