Shropshire Star

Shropshire businesses offer reactions to Spring Budget

A Shropshire brewery has welcomed a further freeze on alcohol duty until 2025 in the Spring Budget.

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Shane Parr, Stonehouse Brewery in Oswestry

But Shane Parr, of Oswestry's Stonehouse Brewery, said he would have liked to have seen more small business support.

"It's great for hospitality and the brewing industry," he said. "We'd love to see a drop if we could but you'd rather see it held than an increase.

"Any business prefers stability and if you know where you are then that's good. All businesses have to plan ahead for projections and so, if you can do so on something fixed, it helps.

"Personally, though, I would have liked to hear more support for small businesses."

Other businesses across Shropshire gave a mixed reaction to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget announcements.

Michael Harte, managing director of Telford-based Bridge Cheese, which supplies cheese and dairy products to food manufacturers and the food services sector, said he welcomed moves to put more money back in people’s pockets – but said the Government had to remain fully committed to the Net Zero agenda.

Michael Harte

Michael, whose business has grown turnover to £30million in five years, said the cut in National Insurance would help many families across the country struggling with the cost of living.

“It’s vital that we allow people to keep as much of their own money as possible to spend on the things they most need, so this was certainly a welcome step.

“There was also some good news in there for business – measures to extend the full-expensing process which lets us claim tax relief on investment are really welcome – but I wanted to hear more about the drive to Net Zero.

“It’s clear that we cannot row back from our legally-binding promises and we need to see a concerted drive from all in power to help us meet our responsibilities.

“Here at Bridge Cheese we have introduced a scheme to recycle more PPE and improve our transport efficiencies which is already cutting our carbon footprint. There must be more incentives for all firms to follow our lead so that we develop a truly national response to climate change.

“This is an election year and the Chancellor had little room for manoeuvre, but we cannot afford any change of direction on our Net Zero plan if we are to pass on a healthy planet to future generations.”

Graham Corfield, chief executive of Telford-based Aviramp, which manufactures award-winning boarding ramps and bridges for the aviation industry said the rise in Airport Passenger Duty on non-economy flights was hugely disappointing.

“Business travel is an essential part of developing new markets and winning new contracts and maintaining the UK’s position as a global player. This increase will make the cost of doing business more expensive and reduces UK companies’ ability to compete with global rivals.

“A new increase in APD was already due to come into force next month taking the tax up to £202 on the longest international flights, and this new raise will simply add further to the costs facing UK businesses on the world stage.

“It will also be bad for this country’s airports and aviation industry in general, with the likely reduction in passenger numbers having a direct impact on the industry’s ability to invest in a world-class infrastructure.”

Neil Lloyd, managing partner of Shropshire law firm FBC Manby Bowdler and Chairman of the Training and Manufacturing Group, said the world-class makers of the Midlands would welcome funding packages for research and development announced by the Chancellor, but the sector needed more than just Government financial investment to meet current challenges.

“Although I welcome the investment pots, which include £200m for developing sustainable aviation and automotive tech, we need to have wrap-around support for companies if they are to deliver on the funding potential.

“That means a long-term industrial plan, support for skills development, planning reform to free up sites for expansion and an import and export strategy to combat the ongoing effects of Brexit.

"The Advanced Manufacturing Plan announced at the Autumn Statement was a step in the right direction, but with the next general election looming and the potential for a new government to be at the wheel by the end of the year, this means more uncertainty for businesses.

“We have a proud manufacturing history in the West Midlands, and that includes Shropshire – the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

“A world-leading manufacturing sector needs a world-leading economic strategy which promotes growth, skills improvement and innovation. The reality is that we may be waiting a while for it.”

Mike Sambrook at SJ Roberts Homes added: “Whilst the Chancellor referenced an ongoing commitment to building more homes, not least of all for young people, and keeping a target of 1 million new homes during this parliament, he failed to make any significant pledges that will see the housing market stimulated to the extent it needs.

“Although we continue to see strong levels of interest in our new homes at Allscott Meads, especially amongst first time buyers, we must now turn attentions to an election later this year in the hope of seeing greater commitment to support for the housing sector.”

Alasdair Hobbs, employment law expert at Human Results in Telford, added: "A 2p cut in National Insurance will likely save employees several hundred pounds a year or more on average, and is cheaper and less controversial than a headline cut in Income Tax rates.

"It won’t frighten the markets like the short-lived Liz Truss Premiership, but it will worry those that want to see improvements in public services as a priority."

Matt Spinks

Matt Spinks, Director of Johnson Design Partnership Ltd, a boutique architects practice in Bridgnorth, said: “The knock-on effect of the Chancellor’s announcements for ‘Joe public’ will mean more money in their back pocket.

"This will hopefully restore consumer confidence, boost the high street, and encourage more leisure spend. From our perspective, we are hoping that this increase in disposable income might be put towards an extension or home refurbishment.

"If this happens, it will not just help Johnson Design Partnership, but will also boost the local tradespeople and contractors we employ on jobs – a real cascade effect.

"On a national level, we welcome the supposed new investment into the NHS and renewed Government backing for more housing schemes.

"It was only reported today that the UK construction sector has stabilised as the housebuilding slump has ended and this budget will further strengthen this notion.

"We just hope that some of the extra investment in housing finds its way to the West Midlands. Wolverhampton Council has a big development framework in the pipeline that could certainly benefit from this.”

Nathan Blissett

Nathan Blissett, founder and principal mortgage adviser of Dwello Mortgages, based in Telford, said he had supported many landlords through difficult decisions over the past 12 months as many felt forced into selling some or all of their property portfolio due to rising costs.

"Reducing Capital Gains Tax from 28% to 24% for higher rate taxpayers selling a residential property is little help to the rental market - we are facing such a massive short fall of rental properties available and this will only increase the gap and is a way to encourage landlords to sell.

"The tax free allowance for CGT will be halved next month too so really something is being given with one hand and taken away with the other.

"If we asked our landlords who are desperate to keep their property portfolios and also invest further and increase their portfolios, they would have liked the 3% additional stamp duty on the additional properties after the first purchase be reduced or scrapped.

"The Spring Budget did nothing to encourage landlords to keep their properties for those who so desperately need them. However, on the flip side, the reduction in the CGT may result in more properties available in the sales market as a result of this and therefore this could be great news for first time buyers who are constantly hunting for those starter homes which are so often snapped up as rentals.

"We are seeing an increased confidence from potential home buyers which is great news.

"The Chancellor also abolished the Multiple Dwellings Relief which was included as the briefest of mentions - but yet will have such a big impact on landlords and investors who are in a position to buy more than one property in a single transaction and the various other purchases which were covered under the MDR scheme.

"Obviously back in the Autumn Budget we had the extension to the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme which encourages lenders to offer 95% Loan-to-Value mortgages which potential buyers are certainly benefiting from. The determination from the Chancellor to reduce inflation to below 2% within two months could see mortgage rates reduce further but that isn't the only factor and as rates reduce property values often do too which impacts on the loan to value for mortgage applications so it is important for people to start asking the questions and finding out what is available now regardless of the situation they are in."

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