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Staffordshire businesses Budget reaction

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: March 19, 2014

By Alison Thomas

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Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce have welcomed today's budget as good news for business - but are calling for urgent reforms to business rates.

"On business rates, the Chancellor has not gone far enough, and firms across Staffordshire are now creaking under the strain," said Jane Gratton, deputy chief executive. "We need a fundamental reform of this outdated system."

But she added: "There is a lot of good news for businesses in this Budget. The Chamber called on the Chancellor to reduce business costs, support business investment and encourage the employment of young people and he seems to have listened to us. A number of positive changes were announced that will offer help to our manufacturing and exporting companies.

"The increase and extension of the Annual Investment Allowance, and the increase in R&D tax credits, will be warmly welcomed by businesses. It is vital that firms are able to invest if they are to compete, grow and create jobs. Our Staffordshire Jobs and Growth Fund proves what a difference investment can make. There was also some good news for social enterprises and tax relief for our local creative companies."

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She added that the £7 billion package to cut energy bills for manufacturers, curb green energy taxes, and encourage investment in future energy needs, was "excellent news".

"It will help us remain competitive and create and safeguard skilled jobs here in Staffordshire. Energy is a massive cost for many of our local firms, representing around a third of total production costs."

Help for exporters was also welcome.

"Earlier this year, the government quietly and dramatically cut funding for UKTI programmes designed to help new exporting companies," Ms Gratton added. "So we are relieved that the Chancellor has done something to help exporters. A more competitive export finance package will be welcomed in that it helps us to compete around the globe. Cuts to air passenger duty for long haul flights, and support for new routes to emerging economies from our regional airports, will be an enormous help to Staffordshire firms looking to grow their business in markets overseas.

"Business people and their employees will welcome the end to compulsory annuities, and lower taxes in the pension system will encourage more people to save for their retirement

"We asked the Chancellor to help businesses take on and train more young people, who have particularly felt the impact of the recession on their employment opportunities. We welcome the extension of the Apprenticeships Grant for Employers and the new degree level apprenticeships."

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