Brigid Simmonds, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive: “This is absolutely brilliant news, and it will make George Osborne the toast of Britain’s pubs today. By cutting the tax on beer, he has moved to boost jobs in Britain’s pubs at a time when it is most needed. In also abolishing the Beer Tax escalator, the Chancellor has ended a hugely damaging policy that would have made Britain’s beer the most heavily taxed in Europe. This will protect thousands of jobs this year, and will allow us to create many new jobs in this brilliant industry.”
John Walker, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman: “The FSB asked for a budget for small businesses and this is what has been delivered. This budget opens the door for small firms to grow and create jobs. The chancellor has pulled out all the stops with a wide-ranging package of measures to support small firms. FSB says the housing initiative will help reinvigorate the construction sector in which many of our members operate and where confidence has been low. The National Insurance Contributions cut goes beyond what we were asking for and we are pleased to see the 3p fuel duty rise due in September completely scrapped.”
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general:“Moves on the income tax threshold and fuel duty are great for consumers’ confidence and ability to spend, which will help retailers and the wider economy. But, pressing on with a third-successive substantial business rates rise is very disappointing. Freezing rates would have made a real difference to our troubled high streets and the communities that rely on them. It's now even more important that the government delivers quickly on its existing commitment to reassess the formula for determining future years’ rates increases.”
John Cridland, Confederation of British Industry director-general: “The CBI was clear this budget needed to deliver a good dose of business and consumer confidence, while being necessarily fiscally neutral. We’re particularly pleased our call for a focus on the short-term boost of housing has been heeded, alongside an increase in longer-term big ticket infrastructure spending. This was recognition it was a mistake to cut capital spending so sharply and that other growth-boosting measures were taking too long. But by shifting £6bn to housing and infrastructure, the government has sowed the seeds for growth and jobs. An extra one penny cut in corporation tax will also make the UK one of the most internationally competitive locations in which to do business.”
Melanie Leech, Food and Drink Federation director general: “Many of the measures in today’s budget and the recently adopted ‘single pot’ proposals from Lord Heseltine support our vision shared with government to grow the sector by 20% by 2020. The new employer allowance will significantly lower food and drink SMEs National Insurance bills and give those businesses greater certainty when considering whether to invest in growth while the announcement of a further cut in Corporation Tax and the cancellation of the rise in fuel duty planned for September will be welcomed across the industry. The new obligation on the Pensions Regulator acknowledged that the huge commitment employers are making to sustain pensions for employees cannot be separated from the drive for growth.”
Caroline Leroux, British Poultry Council head of external relations: “The British Poultry Council is pleased with the recognition of the vital role that apprenticeships play in promoting growth and improving skills. As the Richard Review recommends, employers’ needs have to sit at the heart of the apprenticeship system so that young people can gain the skills they need to make a long-term contribution to the success of the poultry sector.
“We are however disappointed to see that the VAT on hot foodstuffs has not been reversed. Last week we delivered a petition to the Treasury with over 50,000 signatures against the measure, which has had a major impact on sales of rotisserie chicken. This ‘hot VAT tax’ is not raising huge sums for the Treasury but is having a major impact on hard-pressed families and British producers across the country.”
Peter Kendall, National Farmers Union president: “Globally, demand for food is growing, stimulating further potential for exports beyond the EU. At home, there remains an opportunity to expand our share of domestic markets as we witness unprecedented levels of awareness of food provenance and origin in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Last year’s Autumn Statement contained the welcome announcement on the Annual Investment Allowance, and this is already encouraging plant and machinery expenditure in agriculture. Today’s budget failed to deliver equivalent measures for farm buildings and infrastructure. It is capital investment that is the real trigger for meeting the long-term challenge of food security.”
Gavin Hewitt, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive: “There is no justification for spirits being taxed more heavily than beer.”
Ed Balls, shadow chancellor: “It is a Groundhog Day Budget from a failing and out-of-touch chancellor. The only reason he will not change course is to avoid his own political humiliation.”
George Osborne, chancellor: “We're on the side of people who are trying to work hard ... to raise their kids in the right way.”
Juergen Maier, Siemens Industry UK and Ireland md: “It was welcome news that borrowing appears under control, but with growth forecasts revised downwards, I was hoping for some more of the underspend to be invested in infrastructure projects. The chancellor’s account of our infrastructure was seen through rose tinted spectacles and actually much more is needed to support energy and transport. Very welcome was the Chancellor’s support for industry sector strategies, for example for low emission vehicles. I'm also very supportive for increasing R&D tax credits. Ultimately, with the economic climate remaining challenging we need long-term support for R&D and an industrial strategy for Britain.”
More budget coverage is available here.