According to observers, there were broadly two versions of the report: one designed to tickle the voting public ahead of a general election and the other designed to start plugging the yawning gap in public finances.
Well, we argue that there is a third group of voters with a foot in both camps. They are entrepreneurs running the 4.8 million UK businesses; who on first reflection believe they have taken a bit of a kicking.
Here’s what they had to say this morning:
“Having listened to Alistair Darling, quite frankly I don’t believe it,” says Charlie Mullins at Pimlico Plumbers. “This has got to be the worst budget for businesses and workers I have ever seen. Ramping up National Insurance is no way to get us out of trouble.
“Small businesses, the backbone of the economy have been attacked at the very time when they need help. These are the people who are going to get us out of trouble, and penalising them is plain stupidity in my book.”
“It¹s clear that this government doesn’t get small businesses,” says Ben Gladstone, CEO of IT firm Conosco. “It thinks small business is all about loans – but loans don’t make you profitable.
“Why not just give small businesses the same payment terms on national insurance as corporation tax” That’s a huge working capital injection. And while they¹re at it, why notmake payroll taxes payable only by profitable companies (like corporation tax)?
Simon Ball, CEO of Coverzones, a small business insurance comparison website, adds: "Darling’s Pre-Budget Report again contained a disappointing lack of measures to really help and encourage small businesses.
“While the extension of the EFG and the delay in corporation tax increase are to be welcomed, the fact of the matter is that this Government has spent billions backing a handful of banks and done nothing of substance for the entrepreneurs and SME community.”
Michael Berry, founder of debt advisor Versatus LLP, said: “The bonus tax will raise a tiny amount of revenue relative to the deficit – dwarfed in fact by the amount Chancellor Brown threw away by selling our gold reserves at the bottom of the market.
He added: “It is a purely political move which will only serve to besmirch further the reputation of the UK and the City in particular as a place for talented people to ply their trade.”
Arguing (partly) in favour of the statement is Stephen Bentley, chief executive of Granby Marketing Services, who says: “For us, potentially the most interesting part of these announcements is capital put aside for innovation and technology. We invest heavily in R&D so funding in this area is always welcome, and should encourage more green shoots."