Businesses chief ‘disappointed’ with Osborne’s Budget

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BUSINESS leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say George Osborne’s budget will be popular with small firms.

But Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, was disappointed once again to see the ‘Midlands Engine’ overlooked as the Chancellor moved to strengthen the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Osborne announced reductions in business rates, in capital gains tax and stamp duty for small companies describing his budget as putting a ‘rocket boost on enterprise and productivity’.

He also announced a drop in corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020.

Bennett said: “There were some very positive announcements from the point of view of small businesses – Mr Osborne even made reference to ‘newsagents in Nuneaton’ being better off!

“As a Chamber, we wanted the Chancellor to recognise the uncertainty in our economy – around Europe and international difficulties – and to deliver a budget that would still allow businesses to move forward and grow.

“I think many of the measures have been designed with that in mind.

“That said, some of the pain for businesses and business owners have already been announced such as the apprenticeship levy – which could hold some businesses back from taking on apprentices – as well as the changes to taxation on dividends.

“The fuel duty freeze will be another measure that is also popular with businesses and their staff.

“From our region’s point of view, it was disappointing to hear so many major announcements regarding the Northern Powerhouse and London – and yet nothing for the Midlands Engine.

“We, therefore, have to find a new way of catching the Chancellor’s ear when it comes to what this region needs.”

She added; “I would also have liked to have heard much, much more about international trade and the support for business. That is something we, as a Chamber, are delivering for companies across the patch all the time, with a delegation out in the USA right now.

“Export is crucial if we are to Go For Growth as a region and as a country and it’s vital that this is not forgotten.

“On the whole, it was largely a budget that will be welcomed by small business but I am concerned that he might be slightly too bullish when it comes to falling unemployment.

“I don’t believe that is something we can take for granted and that is why it is vital that businesses have every ounce of support to grow and take on new staff.”