Opinion

The Budget 2015: UK Business leaders divided on contents of George Osborne's speech

11 min read

18 March 2015

Former editor

Real Business has canvassed the sentiment of entrepreneurs, business owners and company managers and garnered a mixed reaction, with some feeling that the chancellor missed out on an opportunity to give businesses what is really needed

Kevin Caley, CEO of ThinCats, said:

“The real winners from the chancellor’s budget are the 2.4m pensioners who have been compelled to take an annuity over the last six years. Savers should have the flexibility to choose their own investments and the opportunity to escape the dismally low interest rates that have hampered savings growth since 2007. 

“Prudent savers have had their choices severely restricted for too long, but now they have to the chance to seek real growth and sustainability by shopping around.”

Jason Stockwood, CEO of Simply Business, said:

“News that the self assessment system will be simplified is to be cautiously welcomed, but it is vital that the full impact of this simplification is felt by every self-employed person in the UK. It is also important that the government remembers those who are not comfortable filing online. 

“But today’s announcement lacked many of the concrete steps for which sole traders and microbusinesses, the small firms that can drive a truly sustainable recovery, have long been crying out. The business rates announcement doesn’t go far enough. Small firms need immediate rate cuts and simplification to ensure that they are no longer discriminated against by this regressive tax – now, not with the vague promise of potential action in 2016.”

Keith Hardman, head of DTZ’s Leeds office, said:

“There have been number of welcome initiatives and further investment in support of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ announced in the chancellor’s Budget, including the interim report of Transport for the North, building on the HS3 concept to develop a network of high quality rail connections across the north, the electrification of the Hull to Selby line and extending Enterprise Zones in Humber, Manchester, Mersey Waters, Tees Valley; amending the Leeds Zone; and developing a zone in Blackpool.”

Nadezhda Robinson, marketing director at Wei-UK Consulting, said:

“The Chinese market is very lucrative for British businesses, and it will be great to see increased support from the UKTI to help British exporters. This coupled with events such as the GREAT Festival of Creativity which took place earlier this month, are exactly what SMEs need to make the most of the economic opportunities in China.”

David Sugarman, CEO of Metalcraft and Poppystands.com, said:

“It it great to hear the chancellor acknowledge that the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA), which is set to go back to £25,000 in 2016, is too low and I look forward to the Autumn statement to hear what the new threshold will be. 

“As someone whose business is dependent on machinery, the increased allowance amounts which we have enjoyed over the last few years has made a big difference, and is a great incentive for businesses wanting to grow especially now that the economic recovery is starting to be evident.”

Sean Mallon, CEO Bizdaq, said:

“The major positive was the closure of loopholes in Entrepreneurs’ Relief, so it is now only available to genuine business sellers. Another positive is the long overdue simplification of the self-assessment process for micro business owners. From swathes of paperwork, it will now be one simple digital online service that auto processes much of the assessment. The real question here is about how accessible it will be for small businesses. 

“It was a huge disappointment that the only real mention of business rates was in relation to Manchester, which is keeping 100 per cent of it’s business rates growth. This benefit should have been afforded to more cities. The chancellor did touch on the devolution of power to a more regional basis, but he missed the opportunity to clearly define how he intended to do this.”

Read more on the Budget 2015:

Nick Halstead, CEO, DataSift, said:

“It’s great to see that the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme being updated so that business no longer have to spend 70 per cent of the funds raised under SEIS before EIS and Venture Capital Trust funding can be raised. It takes a lot of time and effort to raise funding and being able to secure investment concurrently means management teams can spend more time doing what they should be doing – running and building a successful business.”

David Brimelow, managing director at Duo UK, said:

“It was good to hear more on the Northern Powerhouse concept in the Budget – the fact that Manchester will now keep 100 per cent of the additional growth in its business rates is a significant step in empowering the regions and rebalancing the country away from London and the financial sector. 

“It’s really positive for businesses in the North West that Manchester is leading the way in the regional devolution process; having the power to make decisions over crucial local infrastructure, coupled with the news on business rates, means we have a real  advantage in generating additional growth.”

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“The announcement today that the government will give further support to broadband underpins the importance of digital infrastructure to the UK economy. For too long, businesses across the country have struggled to grow and compete, suffocated by combination of both access infrastructure and lack of bandwidth. All the evidence shows that high-speed digital connectivity is essential to the success of a country.”

James Campanini, VP EMEA at Blue Jeans, said:

“With success of the five-year plan to transform digital infrastructure, it’s great to hear the chancellor continues to show commitment to connectivity. With plans to invest up to £600m to keep Britain ahead, he will introduce ultra-fast broadband to more cities across the UK, invest in free Wi-Fi in public libraries, and ensure internet speeds of 100mbps to all homes. 

“With recent flexible working initiatives in place and a clear cultural shift towards this new way of working, this will only go further to improve connectivity for those in the office and those who work remotely.”

Debbie Wosskow, founder and CEO of LoveHomeSwap and chair of the newly-formed Sharing Economy UK trade body, said:

“I’m delighted that the government has taken the Sharing Economy Report I issued last November so seriously – and that they have really listened, and taken real action on the back of the recommendations I made, particularly around changes to make it easier to share rooms and parking spaces.

“I am also impressed by the way in which government has embraced the sharing economy internally as well, updating the government procurement frameworks to include sharing economy platforms and also allowing government employees to use sharing economy solutions for accommodation and traveling.”

Neil Crockett, CEO of Digital Catapult, said:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key area of growth for the UK’s digital economy; a factor recognised by the government with today’s investment announcement. We are proud to be a partner in this project, enabling collaboration between innovators, organisations and academics who, together, can put the UK at the forefront of a new wave of business models that will make the UK more competitive and a better place to live. It means that the UK can be IoT leaders rather than just IoT consumers.”

David Anderson, sales and marketing director at Rixonway Kitchens, said:

“The chancellor’s Budget announcement delivered big results in terms of economic growth and support for businesses, as well as laying out plans to increase apprenticeship opportunities and boost employment.

“It was also refreshing to hear George Osborne recognise the importance of Northern businesses, and Yorkshire in particular, in tackling unemployment.

“I welcome the chancellor’s pledge to support businesses in providing apprenticeships, with the promise to abolish National Insurance for businesses employing a young apprentice next April. This will enable many businesses, including Rixonway which currently employs 11 apprentices, to take on more apprentices and increase employment and training opportunities.”