L to R: Lee Watson, George Rafferty, Nicky Jolley and Ian Wardle

Investment in small businesses, environmental issues and affordable homes: North East business leaders on Budget 2020

Rishi Sunak delivered his first budget on 11 March, with positive news for many: business owners, the education sector and those who enjoy a visit to their local pub to name but a few.

North East business leaders have reacted to the chancellor’s budget, with particular focus on small businesses, research and development (R&D), the environment and affordable homes.

Lee Watson, tax director at Clive Owen LLP, said:

“Great news to hear that the pensions tapering threshold has been uplifted. This will help reduce the income tax burden on NHS surgeons and doctors as well as high earning employees and business owners, who are caught with a tax charge when trying to save for their retirement.

“In addition, sensible measures have been brought in to retain some element of entrepreneurs’ relief and encouragingly a raft of small business rates reliefs were announced.

“There will be more funding for R&D – a small increase in the tax credit rates for larger companies and those that have funded expenditure. In addition, the Chancellor announced more monies would be made available to invest in R&D.

“Initially, it appears to be an encouraging Budget although we await further details and releases in the coming days.”

George Rafferty, Chief Executive of NOF, the Durham-based UK business development organisation for the energy sector, said:

“If the Government is serious about its environmental ambitions it needs to implement more incentives to support the development of new technologies that will encourage more rapid energy transition. The UK energy industry contains some highly innovative companies that are able, with the right support, to increase the pace of the implementation of such things as hydrogen and Carbon Capture Storage within the energy mix. This can be supported by diversification incentives to enable a greater proportion of the supply chain to transfer their skills, products and services into renewable energy markets to support the energy transition agenda.”

Nicky Jolley, founder and managing director of HR2day in Darlington, said:

“Overall, I thought the budget was very positive for North East businesses, although I was a little concerned when the chancellor jumped from minimum wage to living wage, as this could be confusing for some people. It was a positive indication of where he’s going with it though, and I think it will be great for the economy.

“As a small business owner, I’m very pleased with the cash injection because it gives us the opportunity to spend more and boost the economy that way too.

“I’m glad the government is putting everything it can in place in the wake of the coronavirus, particularly to help employers deliver sick pay when it’s needed. Although it could end up costing a lot, I’m glad to see the chancellor is investing in the welfare of small businesses. They’ve been the backbone of the economy for a long time and I’m delighted they’ll benefit from this budget.”

Ian Wardle, chief executive of Thirteen, said:

“The chancellor’s announcement that the government is to extend the Affordable Homes Programme by investing a further £12 billion to support the creation of affordable homes is great news.

“This provides certainty for Thirteen to continue purchasing sites and working with developers to deliver low cost rental homes and shared ownership which is a route to home ownership.”

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