There was a mixed response to Chancellor George Osborne’s 2016 Budget on Wednesday…
Entrepreneur Gareth Thomas, managing director of precision plastic injection moulding firm Icon Plastics, of Eaglescliffe, said: “Many of the Budget announcements are a case of jam tomorrow rather than today. A case in point is the latest cut in Corporation Tax, which will not come into effect until April 2020.
“Companies that buy raw materials from Europe and pay in Euros are facing increased costs now as uncertainty caused by the forthcoming Euro referendum has hit the value of the pound.”
Jonathan Walker, North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), Head of Policy and Campaigns said: “We are pleased our lobbying has help secure a firm commitment to upgrade both the A66 and A69 which are vital links for businesses in the region. This was a key priority in our 2016 Manifesto and will help to build a more connected North East.
“However we are disappointed the Chancellor has not heeded our calls for further detail on big reforms such as the apprenticeship levy.
“The Government has said it is committed to stability yet doesn’t provide businesses with sufficient detail to plan for the future.
“There were some other positive announcements today. Cuts in business taxation are always welcome.
“In particular, removing many small businesses from paying rates will be a boost for a crucial part of our economy. Despite this, we will continue to seek assurances from the Chancellor that the North East will not suffer as a result of business rate localization.
“NECC members are keen for the Government to provide more clarity on the Apprenticeship Levy, and particularly the support that will be available for smaller businesses and the construction sector.
“The Chancellor has not provided this (in this Budget), and we hope that more detail will be forthcoming in the very near future.”
Graham Robb, North East chair of the Institute of Directors said: “This was a good budget for business and the self-employed. The cuts to small business rates will be welcome as will the reduction in corporation tax for all firms.
“In the North East the energy supply sector will be pleased that support is being offered to the oil and gas sector. Businesses with delivery and transport costs will be pleased that the Chancellor wasn’t tempted to increase the rate of fuel duty.”
“The Northern Powerhouse has also taken some steps forward, the HS3 project has always found favour with IoD members and upgrading east-west road links is a priority we want to see addressed as soon as possible.
“These transport priorities were addressed in the Budget as was the important acknowledgement that educational gaps need addressing, we hope that the £20m being committed to meeting educational challenges is spent effectively.”
The Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, said: “Today’s Budget provided no clear indication that this Tory Government have any intention of turning the fortunes of Teesside around, and may even entrench its difficulties further.
“The biggest issue facing the area remains the fallout from the closure of SSI and there is not a single mention of the steel industry in the budget booklet.
“This budget provided the opportunity for George Osborne provide the cash required to sort out the site, instead they are leaving it to rot. My calls for an extension to the remit of the taskforce to account for job losses at Boulby Potash and those offshore workers who are at the sharp end of low oil prices, has fallen on deaf ears.
“In terms of devolution, the meagre level of cash available for the Tees Valley deal will not bring about the overhaul of the area that is required in terms of improving transport links and there was nothing in the Budget in terms Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ project receiving a helping hand on Teesside.
“For all the hot air, none of the much vaunted improvements to transport infrastructure will benefit Teesside, with the bulk of the cash going to London – yet again.
“In order to turn the corner in 2016 and push for a positive Teesside we can’t keep getting cuts on top of the job losses from industries that the area has relied on for generations. One avoidable cut that will protect local jobs is keeping the local tax office here on Teesside.
“These are public sector jobs that the Government has control over. It doesn’t need to add to the misery of job losses suffered in the private sector.
“Today was all about George Osborne jockeying for position in the Tory leadership race. Unfortunately, it is Teesside that is paying the price.”