March 19, 2014 - Rachel Miller
A "steady-as-you-go Budget" that "passes the business test" – that's the verdict of UK business groups on George Osborne's 2014 Budget.
John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "This was always going to be a 'steady-as-you-go' Budget for business, designed to get the UK's financial affairs in order. Today's Budget offered a clear signal for businesses to grow through the increased investment allowance.
"Doubling the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) for small firms to the end of 2015 will provide certainty and allow them to realise their investment expectations. The £7 billion package to cut manufacturing energy bills will help create jobs and strengthen this key sector."
The FSB also welcomed initiatives to support exporters, investment in road infrastructure and more action on house building. However, Allan added: "The Chancellor set the pace towards some progress, but there is still more to be done to get the economy and public finances back on track."
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that the Budget was "disciplined, focused and geared towards the creation of wealth and jobs".
BCC director general, John Longworth, said: "Osborne's focus on investment, exports, house-building and economic resilience passes the business test. As with any Budget, there were some populist measures that were not at the top of business' wish list. Luckily, these were far outweighed by considered measures to support business growth and wealth creation."
Kevin Nicholson, head of tax at PwC, said: "This was a bit of a scattergun Budget. The £2bn for investment allowance for business is welcome, but in the context of a £1.4tn economy this is relatively small fry. Overall though, business will be pleased there are no major changes as certainty is often what matters most."
David Brimelow, managing director of polythene manufacturer Duo UK, said: "For us, it is good news that the Chancellor has outlined his intention to champion manufacturing. Reductions in energy and operating costs will help make it easier for us to continue to finance our business and to grow."
Some commentators felt Osborne could have done more for small businesses. Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour, said: "'This government needs to go further. Apart from making it more affordable to hire under 21s by removing them from jobs tax and increasing the AIA to £500,000, there wasn't much else to give aspiring small business owners any confidence that the government has their best interests at heart."
Alistair Bingle, managing director at removals firm Bishop's Move, said: "I applaud the decision to extend the Help to Buy scheme until 2020. To complement the scheme, a stamp duty holiday for first time buyers would give the market, and indeed the economy, that extra kick forwards."