Budget: cautious welcome from Hunts business

HUNTINGDONSHIRE business leaders have generally welcomed today’s Budget as helpful to companies.

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Today’s announcements will, on the whole, be met positively by business. The additional decrease in corporation tax will be welcomed, while the promise of no new regulation for firms with fewer than 10 staff over the next three years is equally positive.

“Red tape continues to be an issue for business owners, who simply don’t have the time or the inclination to sit down and get their head around onerous new rules and regulation.

“The 1p reduction in fuel duty and deferral of the planned increase is a positive step that shows the Government understands the challenges facing businesses and individuals in relation to the high cost of fuel.

“On the whole, a positive, forward-looking budget that signals the Chancellor is starting to listen to the needs of business.

“But it’s not all positive for Cambridgeshire, with no official confirmation of an enterprise zone to help generate funds for the Enterprise Partnership to use to tackle barriers to growth in our area, while the tax on jobs – the rest of the national insurance contributions rise facing employers from April – remains.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the Budget would help provide stability, but believed it did not go far enough to provide a real incentive for job creation.

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“Many of the changes may not look like headline news, but they will provide solid benefits for business growth and employment.

“The creation of 50,000 apprenticeships, greater controls on fuel prices, the extension of small business rate relief and benefits connected with research and development and enterprise investment are all positive.”

But the FSB said it was still concerned about “new complex employment laws due to come into force this year, and the failure to extend to NIC holiday to existing businesses, as they are even more likely to require new staff, given the opportunity, than are start-ups.”

Huntingdonshire’s FSB chairman, seed-merchant Malcolm Lyons, added: “Reducing fuel duty is appreciated in this rural area. I appreciate it for my rural business – I need a car to reach my farm customers.”