Cumbria Chamber of Commerce Response to Budget

Following today’s Budget Statement by the Chancellor, Rob Johnston, Chief Executive, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce says

“This Budget appears to deliver much of what Chambers have been lobbying for and to be a positive Budget for British business.

The key issues we’ve been lobbying on are longstanding concerns about:

–          The dire need for simpler, better more competitive business taxation

–          The continuing need for a fundamental reform of business rates

–          Significant shortcomings around tax administration and HMRC

It’s to be hoped that this proves in practice to be affordable while still moving towards a balanced budget.”

Commenting on specific measures he adds:

Taxation

“Moves which further address tax avoidance by multinationals, seeking to make sure profits can’t be artificially shifted out of the UK are good news – particularly alongside the further reduction in corporation tax by April 2020 to 17% benefiting over 1m businesses.

For the smallest entrepreneurs the new tax allowances of £1,000 each around trading and property incomes will clearly be welcome and make a real difference to the sustainability of their endeavors.

Entrepreneurs will also benefit from the abolition from 2018 of Class 2 National Insurance Contributions, alongside reform of Class 4 NICs so self-employed people can continue to build benefit entitlement.”

Business Rates

“It’s also good news for SMEs that 600,000 small businesses will be taken out of business rates permanently and a further 250,000 see their rates cut.

From April 2017 small businesses that occupy property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will pay no business rates (doubled from the current £6,000 rateable value), with tapered relief on properties up to £15,000.”

This means that the rates on half of all business properties will go down or be removed altogether.

We understand there is also an intention to simplify administration and look forward to seeing this in practice.”

Capital Gains Tax on Commercial Properties

From April 2016 higher rate Capital Gains Tax will be cut from 28% to 20% and basic rate from 18% to 10%, with no changes to Capital Gains Tax on properties, creating the incentive to invest in businesses over property. This is good news for business investment.”

HMRC

“We’re pleased to see a commitment to improving the HMRC service, responding positively to what we have asked for, and look forward to seeing what this means in practice. It’s to be hoped that the promise comes to fruition.”

Fuel Duty

“Freezing of fuel duty for the sixth year in a row is great news for businesses as well as individuals, particularly in a county such as Cumbria where travel costs are so high.”

Duty on Spirits and Beer

“Here in Cumbria we have a vibrant brewing industry – and are seeing investment too in artisan spirits. Alongside this we of course have a significant tourism and leisure economy. So it’s good news for businesses in these sectors that there will be no rise in beer and spirit duties.” Whisky protected but wine not so!

Infrastructure

“We welcome the announcements on upgrading of the A66 and A69 and look forward to seeing the detail. Hopefully these are significant upgrades.”

Flood Defences

“Funding of flood defences for Cumbria are clearly good news, and again we look forward to seeing the detail of what will be funded.”

Nuclear

“The announcement around the next generation of small nuclear reactors should create opportunities for Cumbrian businesses.”

An interesting budget illustrating some innovative thinking which we hope makes a positive difference. Also interesting is the move in education to academies and the education paper will be worthy of reading. This shifts the balance of power to private companies away from the public sector. I was scanning the paper on the train earlier in the week and clearly there will be responses to the over 28 questions asked.

The sugar tax is also an interesting one. When I learnt cookery many years ago in school and also in college it was confirmed that sugar is empty calories so it’s interesting how long policy takes to follow knowledge. How much this demonises the soft drinks industry is an interesting thought as I was taught there are no bad foods, only a bad diet.

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