Chancellor George Osborne
ENTREPRENUERS believe the coalition government’s final budget before May’s general election will help present a positive economic outlook, while critics have said it will make the public suffer.
Chancellor George Osborne last week announced tax cuts for first-time buyers, workers and savers in his final Budget.
With less than 50 days to go until election day on May 7, there were voter-friendly sweeteners too, with tax cuts on beer, cider and spirits, while a fuel duty rise was axed following a slump in world oil prices.
There was also a reward for savers - who have long been punished by Britain’s record-low interest rates - with the introduction of a new personal savings allowance under which the first £1,000 in interest will be tax free.
Osborne said: “This is a budget that takes Britain one more step on the road from austerity to prosperity,”
“Today, I report on a Britain that is growing, creating jobs and paying its way,”
Gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to expand by 2.3 per cent in both 2016 and 2017, he said.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband, hit back saying: “It’s a recovery for the few from a government of the few”.
Dr Rami Ranger, founder of the Sun Mark firm, told Eastern Eye the chancellor’s budgets “have always been business friendly”.
“For small and medium-sized businesses, an increase in UK Trade and Investment’s resources to double the support for British exporters to China, the scrapping of the annual tax return and class two national insurance contributions for the self-employed, and a rise in the national minimum wage to £6.70 this autumn will go a long way to support businesses.
“Good news for pensioners too as they will be able to trade in their annuities for cash pots, with the 55 per cent tax charge abolished and tax applied at the marginal rate.
“I am optimistic that by next year the economy will grow by over three per cent as a result of the measure announced in the budget.
Mayank Patel,chairman and founder of Azibo group, one of UK’s largest currency payment providers, believed the measure will continue to strengthen the UK’s presence and attraction on the global stage.
He said: “Speaking from a businessman’s perspective I find business enterprise, creating jobs and growth as instrumental in the road to recovery. The current employment figures and growth forecasts are directly attributable to the good work of the present government, they have done a great job of pulling us out of the mess we were left with.
Bharat Shah, founder of Sigma Pharmaceuticals, remained sceptical and saw the budget as misleading.
“The budget to me was an ‘ icing on the cake’ before the elections. It was certainly one that gave a rosy picture of UK and hid a few key issues in our country,” he said.
“To me the key issue that affects my business is NHS. There was no mention of the tremendous problems in the NHS machinery that is going to require a ‘few’ billions of pounds pumped in to resolve. Money is being taken away from key services including Pharmacy that is going to make the public suffer.
“Giving tax incentives before a general election is not a ‘good’ budget as people are not sure of future oil prices, currency prices and industrial output.”
Britain’s deficit was set to reach four per cent of GDP in 2015/2016, falling further until 2018/2019 when it was forecast to stand at a surplus of 0.2 per cent.
Osborne said that the government would not chase “short term” gimmicks and would instead stick to its deficit-slashing plan.
Tax avoidance and evasion measures meanwhile would seek to raise Â£3.1 billion over the forecast period.
“We choose… to use whatever additional resources we have to get the debt and the deficit falling,” Osborne said.
“No short term giveaway can ever help as much as the long term benefits of a national economic recovery.”