My Column

Sums add up as business gets a boost

  • Date: Monday 25th March 2013
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Waiting on the reaction to a budget must be nerve racking for any Chancellor but most get to finish delivering their speech first.

Not Osborne though -  the Opposition front bench were more in-the-know than expected before he’d even started due to a broken embargo in the Evening Standard.

What a red face he was left with after the paper's front page appeared on Twitter, giving a sneak preview of some of the figures.

It was a rocky start for Osborne but he ploughed on and delivered a budget that he probably thought had a few trump cards in it.

I'd hazard a guess that his announcement about the Help to Buy scheme, aimed at stimulating the housing market, was one of them.

It offers help to homebuyers who can only put down a 5 per cent deposit, but the so called boost has come under fire amid claims it could amount to a 'spare homes' subsidy for the well-off.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was quick to jump on the criticism bandwagon and used it as a chance to bring up the unpopular bedroom tax, pointing out that while spare rooms would be taxed spare homes would be subsidised.

Westminster reckons the Budget amounts to a £176m economy boost north of the border but Finance Secretary John Swinney was less than impressed 

He branded the UK government as deceitful, highlighting that most of the capital money available to Scotland would be loans which would of course have to be repaid.


If you were crying into your pint when you heard this you might at least have been consoled by the fact the duty on beer is being cut by (drumroll) a penny.

But if whisky's your tipple of choice, the news that 47p was being slapped on a 70cl bottle of Scotch will have left a sour taste in your mouth.

It’s no wonder the Scottish Whisky Federation was incensed by the decision - its chief executive even blasted the move as an attack on the Scotch whisky industry 

It’s not the only industry with concerns around the budget – the travel sector will have been none too pleased to see the anticipated, but hotly contested rise in Air Passenger Duty.

With it bumping up the cost of holidays – the average family will pay £376 in taxes to fly out of a UK airport – it’s no wonder that ‘staycations’ are becoming ever popular.

But let's not focus only on the negatives, because the Budget, albeit not ground-breaking, does offer a few wee boosts in there for businesses.


One of those is the surprise new tax cut for employers in the form of the Employment Allowance.

It will see the first £2,000 wiped off the National Insurance bill for businesses and charities. It might be a drop in the ocean for large firms, but it’s a massive boost for smaller businesses.

If you’re a one man band or have a small family firm it will make a real difference and who knows, it might even encourage SMEs to take on more staff.

The announcement that the personal tax allowance has been raised to £10,000 could also help encourage people into work.  I like that there’s help being offered on both sides of the fence, with both employee and employer reaping some benefits.

Companies will also be breathing a sigh of relief that the proposed fuel duty rise, which we were expecting in September, has now been frozen – that would have hit many firms hard in the pockets.

Then there’s corporation tax which has been cut from 21 per cent to 20 per cent in a bid to make Britain a competitive place to do businesses.

Despite all the criticism the Budget has attracted, a number of influential organisations are warmly welcoming some of these latest moves – namely the Federation for Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors for Scotland and Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

So in a nutshell, for SMEs at least, it looks like the budget isn’t such a damp squib after all.


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