Budget brings good news for our businesses

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BUSINESS leaders in West Suffolk have given a careful welcome to a Budget which is aimed at improving business as well as offering aid to first-time buyers and an increase in personal tax allowance.

A 1p cut on fuel prices and fuel stabilisation have also been introduced but a two per cent above inflation levy on wine and beer duty will impact on Bury’s Greene King brewing business.

Chancellor George Osborne also announced an injection of £100m to local authorities to cope with pothole damage caused by the last two severe winters.

Suffolk County Council should receive around £2million. Cllr Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for transport, said that while it was a significant contribution the council still faces a bill for around £20million in repairing severe weather damage.

An extra 50,000 apprenticeships are being created and there are moves to reduce Corporation Tax over three years. There is also £250 million in support for first-time home buyers. The personal tax allowance also increases to £8,105 and there is an extension to small business rate relief for properties with a rateable value below £6,000.

Andrew Denny, chairman of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, said the reduction in fuel duty would be welcomed by local haulage companies and businesses would welcome the reduction in Corporation Tax,

“This budget doesn’t tinker too much but is creating conditions that would be favourable for growth. Bury is weathering the storm a lot better than many towns on a macro level. I think the reduction in Corporation Tax will make the UK an attractive place to do business,

“We’ve got a vibrant retail sector with many people qualifying for the tax allowance increase.”

Havebury Housing’s chief executive Karen Mayhew said that while she welcomed the Firstbuy home scheme, which would encourage around 10,000 first-time buyers on to the property ladder, it was not a panacea for the current housing shortage,

“It is not new as it replaces the popular old Home Buy Direct scheme. While we are delighted to see something for first-time buyers, this is 10,000 families and there are 2,000 people alone in St Edmundsbury registered for housing.”

Mrs Mayhew said the scheme was only appropriate for certain households and would not resolve the needs of people in low-paid jobs, older people and those with disabilities.

St Nicholas Hospice Care also welcomed changes to Gift Aid, whereby small bucket collections qualify as well as larger donations up to £2,500.

Suffolk had been expecting a figure of £2million for pothole repairs but it was announced yesterday that the county had been awarded £4.441m instead.