BOLTON businesses and politicians have reacted to the chancellor’s budget.
George Osborne laid out his vision for a Britain of “makers, doers and savers” during his spring statement in parliament today, but warned that austerity measures would stay in place.
Included in his fifth budget were plans to increase the personal tax allowance to £10,500, a cut in beer duty — meaning a pint will cost 1p less — and freezing petrol duty.
Mr Osborne also announced a new £200 million fund to fix potholes — funding which local authorities can bid for — an increase in the limit people can save in ISAs to £15,000, as well as slicing the tax on bingo halls from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.
- MARK Travis, manager of the Mecca Bingo Club in Moor Lane, in Bolton town centre, was delighted that the tax on bingo halls will be halved.
He added: “It took us by surprise. The best case scenario was that it would go to 15 per cent. We will have more money to invest in our club and give customers a better experience.”
- DAVID Crausby, MP for Bolton North East, also welcomed the cut in bingo tax. He said it was a “natural justice issue” which he had campaigned on for many years — but said the budget showed little or no imagination.
He added: “I didn’t really expect much of a budget and the reality was we didn’t get one.
“There’s been a national scandal on the issues of pension annuities, and I hope the situation will be that no one is forced into an annuity. That was one of the most important things in the speech.
“I would have liked to see him repeal the bedroom tax. It is the single most unjust piece of legislation in many a year.”
- JULIE Hilling, Bolton West MP, felt the budget did not address the growing cost of living.
She said: “It’s welcome there’s a penny off a pint of beer, but it’s not going to make a fundamental difference to people. Again it feels like the people on lower incomes are taking the pain.
“Raising the tax threshold to £10,500 is definitely welcome, but a lot of people at the bottom aren’t even paying tax.”
- Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, said ordinary people had been ignored.
She added: “Mr Osborne failed to deal with the real issues facing ordinary people, and the fact that the average family is £1,600 worse off under this government.”
- FARNWORTH mother-of-two Rebecca Dodd said the Budget would have very lttle impact on her family.
She and her husband, Lee, work full time and care for their five-year-old daughter, Katie, and son Joseph, aged 10, who attend Highfield Primary School.
She said: “There’s very little that applies to us in the budget. Lee travels to work in Ashton-under-Lyne every day and does quite a lot of mileage, so the freeze on fuel duty might help a bit.”
- DENNIS Holmes, landlord of the Finishers Arms in Church Road, Smithills, welcomed the 1p cut in a pint of beer, but said it would have little effect.
“It’s helpful, but we’ve not to forget that the breweries put up their prices two weeks ago anyway,” he said.
“It makes me feel that the breweries and the pub companies are taking advantage of the tax reduction by increasing their prices, like they did last year.”
- DAVE Jones, who owns Progressive Business Mentoring (Bolton), said: “The revised upwards growth forecast to 2.7 per cent for 2014 appears to confirm that UK business is now on a sustainable growth path.
“While the extension of the Annual Investment Allowance, which lets companies offset spending against tax on items such as office equipment, extended to 2015 was largely expected, the doubling of the allowance to £500,000 was an unexpected bonus.”
- PAUL Norris, Bolton-based managing director of private sector business support organisation Gerron, welcomed infra-structure improvements which include £200 million made available to fix potholes and support for building 200,000 new homes.
And he applauded the £3 billion boost to help British exporters, as well as the fuel duty freeze.
“A freeze on fuel duty has always got to be good,” he said, “but in general there wasn’t a lot of room to move in terms of the overall situation.”
- IAN Smethurst, tax partner at Bolton accountants CLB Cooper, said the changes to the rules governing pensions were the most interesting aspect of the budget.
“It is a massive relaxation of the regulations, in that pensioners can draw out their pension,” he said.
2014 BUDGET the key points
- Point at which people start paying income tax will be raised to £10,500
- Threshold for 40p income tax to rise from £41,450 to £41,865 next month and by a further 1 per cent to £42,285 next year
- Cash and shares Isas to be merged into single New ISA with annual tax-free savings limit of £15,000 from July 1
- All tax restrictions on pensioners’ access to their pension pots to be removed, ending the requirement to buy an annuity
- Bingo duty will be halved to 10 per cent
- Beer duty cut by 1p a pint
- Duty on spirits and ordinary cider frozen
- Tobacco duty to rise by 2 per cent above inflation
- Fuel duty rise planned for September will not happen
- Welfare budget to be capped at £119 billion for 2015/16, rising in line with inflation to £127 billion in 2018/19.
- Help to Buy equity scheme for new-build homes extended to 2020
You can see our live coverage of the budget here.