George Osborne’s 2012 Budget should give considerable encouragement to West Midland businesses. His proposals concerning corporation tax will be most welcome, and can only result in increased investment.
In addition, his commitment to invest in more house building, in electrifying some of the cross Pennine routes, plus the Blackpool spur, opens the door to lots of opportunities, for a high percentage of the work created will be undertaken by British companies.
Similarly, his intention to give additional support to the industries related to aerospace, technology centres, film production, video games and ammination, plus further expansion of the broadband network for the United Kingdom, will create opportunities for British factories, particularly in the West Midlands, with considerable emphasis for the component industry.
I was particularly pleased to see the tax threshold raised for those on low incomes to £9,205 from April next year, although I am sad that he chose to drop the 50 per cent tax rate, for it sends the wrong message.
Very few Midland company directors gross £150,000 per annum, a fact underlined by the Chancellor in his statement that it would only affect just one per cent of taxpayers. This measure does not really underpin the Prime Minister’s avowal that “we are all in this together”.
Support for further exploration off the west coast of the Shetland Islands is also welcome, for many Birmingham companies supply Aberdeen and Lerwick oil support industries.
Investment in roads will create more jobs, although I am against the over-taxed motorist paying toll charges. It is also unfortunate the Chancellor did not take the opportunity to postpone or cancel altogether the fuel escalator.
He is already getting more money from VAT as the pump price continues to rise. Transport costs have to be reflected in the price quoted, and does not help competitiveness.
For small enterprises, the promise of a simplified tax system should be well received. Similarly, help for exporters will be most welcome.
Overall, a very helpful Budget, designed with business, particularly manufacturing in mind. Hopefully the measures outlined will result in more jobs being created, thus lowering the drain on the exchequer from paying out to the unemployed.
We can all help if we insist that products that we buy are made in Britain.
* Russell Luckock is chairman of Birmingham pressings firm AE Harris