THE Federation of Small Businesses and Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce have expressed concerns at the impact Wednesday s budget could have on business in the region. Chamber chief executive John Bridge called the budget misrepresentative of the chal

THE Federation of Small Businesses and Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce have expressed concerns at the impact Wednesday's budget could have on business in the region.

Chamber chief executive John Bridge called the budget "misrepresentative" of the challenges facing businesses, while the FSB welcomed help for small businesses but expressed disappointment at the hike in National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

Mr Bridge said: "On the whole I believe that this budget is misrepresentative of the reality of the challenge of reducing the national debt.

"We are disappointed that that some of the savings made from the lower than expected borrowing this financial year and next are being diverted to new spending plans, rather than actually cutting the deficit."

The two organisations also expressed concern over the confirmation that NICs are set to rise by one per cent from April 1, a move against which both had campaigned.

FSB research suggests that the rise would come at a cost of 57,000 jobs to the economy, and place additional pressures on SMEs.

The rise in fuel duty would also hit businesses hard in the coming year, both said.

Mr Bridge said: "Fuel costs are still going to rise - albeit in a staggered fashion - and that is going to impact upon businesses of all sizes.

"Between April 1 this year and April 1 next year we will have seen 3.76 pence rise in fuel duty. Small reliefs are welcome but when they are balanced out by significant increases like these, they do not provide the help that many SMEs are currently seeking."

The FSB said taking 345,000 small businesses out of the business rates system - the third highest outlay for small businesses - would be a relief for high street businesses.

It welcomed the decision to give small businesses more time to pay their tax bills, a scheme which has been extended into the next Parliament.

It also said that increasing the Entrepreneurs Relief threshold - meaning a Capital Gains Tax rate of 10 per cent instead of the general 18 per cent rate - from £1million to £2million would see serial entrepreneurship rise.