The 1p cut in beer duty, the chancellor appearing to choke on his words, the deputy speaker revealing himself to have a sense of humour, and The Evening Standard publishing details of the Budget before Mr Osborne had even stood up.
Whilst these are certainly the headlines we”ll remember – what was actually announced in the Budget speech? We”ve created a brief guide for businesses on the good and the bad, and how the measures to be introduced are likely to affect you.
£2,000 knocked off national insurance liabilities for every employee, freeing approximately 450,000 or so small businesses from national insurance liabilities.
A cut in corporation tax by 1% to 20% – always welcome; as is the fivefold increase in government procurement from small firms. We”ll wait for more details, but this change is certain to be welcomed by SME business owners.
The introduction of tax-free childcare vouchers with a value of up to £1,200 per child. Clearly introduced in the hope that it will encourage more mums to get back to work, but will it also leave them with a little more cash at the end of each month?
An additional £3bn per year to be spent on infrastructure from 2015/2016, equating to an extra £15bn over the next 10 years. Hopefully this investment will drive the creation of new jobs and we look forward to seeing whether the north-west will benefit from this particular announcement.
On the energy front – two carbon capture and storage projects have been announced as well as a new tax regime to pokies online promote early investment into shale gas. Although fracking has its supporters and opponents, the government may need to be reminded of the longer-term benefits of renewable energy. That said, investment promotes jobs and this should be a positive move for the north-west and particularly Lancashire”s economy.
Finally – the fuel duty rise set for September has been scrapped. For those of us that need our cars to get to work, and for businesses reliant upon road transport, this can only be a good thing.
The UK economic growth forecast has been cut in half – literally from 1.2% to 0.6%. Not a good sign for those of us in business, and certainly not the best news we”ve received this year. The chancellor blamed problems arising out of the eurozone, which may or may not be an easy target for him to focus upon.
Further bad news was reported in the quarterly unemployment figures released today – increasing by 7,000 to 2.52 million. However, this figure is still 152,000 lower than last year. Unemployment currently stands at 7.8% as opposed to 8.3% this time last year.
Bad if you rely upon them – tax avoidance schemes and evasion methods to be introduced alongside agreements with Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, which the government hopes will recoup £3bn in unpaid taxes.
In all, the Budget contains a number of initiatives that should provide support to businesses and the economy. The national insurance and corporation tax cuts are certainly crowd-pleasers likely to be applauded by all business owners, as is the cancellation of the fuel duty rise. Tax-free childcare vouchers are good news for parents, especially mums, but is the government doing enough to support UK businesses?