Budget: Region’s business leaders back Chancellor’s strategy

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King.

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King. - Credit: Archant

Business organisations in East Anglia today welcomed a range of pro-enterprise measures offered in George Osborne’s final Budget before the General Election.

And there was particular praise from Greene King, Suffolk’s largest quoted company, as the Chancellor also cut beer duty for the third year running.

Rooney Anand, chief executive of the Bury St Edmunds pubs and brewing group, said: “The penny off a pint will be passed directly on to our hard-working licensees with immediate effect while, in our retail business, we will pass on the potential saving by investing it in creating additional jobs and delivering further customer service improvements.”

Business organisations broadly welcomed measures announced by Mr Osborne in areas including investment, research, exports and fuel duty, as well as confirmation of a review of business rates.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The confirmation that business rates are being reviewed is welcome, but it needs to happen and bear fruit as soon as possible.

“The freezing of the rise in petrol duty will make a big difference to firms big and small across Suffolk who can be crippled by increasing transportation costs and the Chancellor’s focus on fiscal responsibility will play well with business audiences.”

David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “The reduction in Corporation Tax and the freezing of fuel duty will both be generally supported by businesses; the latter should particularly help the logistics sector which is important to the Essex economy.

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“The promised review of business rates is long overdue as this is one subject that is always a contentious issue with our members and we hope that the outcome of this will produce a system that is fairer than the current one.”

Jim Davison, East of England region director at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “The Chancellor gets three cheers from manufacturers today, particularly for the measures he included to boost exporters.

“Boosting the UK’s export performance is a national priority and the Chancellor is right to keep the pressure on by providing additional resources to support exporters in overseas markets.”

Jeanette Thurtle, East Anglia development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The case for overhauling business rates is overwhelming and it’s good to see the Government recognises this.”

She added: “R&D Tax Credits are an important way of incentivising business R&D investment, but as we have consistently argued many smaller businesses simply find them too difficult to claim. The announcement of well-publicised standalone guidance, backed by advance assurance of claims which we have strongly advocated, should make it much easier for small businesses to apply.”

There was also support from the business sector for the Chancellor’s broader economic strategy.

Richard Tunnicliffe, CBI regional director for the East of England, said: “The brighter fiscal picture has allowed the Chancellor to recalibrate his deficit reduction plans. In the next Parliament this fiscal breathing space should be used to achieve intelligent reductions in public spending, together with much-needed infrastructure and innovation.”

And Luke Morris, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the Insitute of Directors, said: “Few Chancellors would be able to resist the temptation to binge on a £22bn windfall from the sale of bank shares this close to an election. Instead, George Osborne has used it to pay down debt and shown commendable discipline.”