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BUDGET: Reaction on today's Budget as the dust settles
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- Chancellor George Osborne announced that not just the 3p rise in beer tax planned for this year, but the schedule to automatically increase beer duty by 2 per cent above inflation every single year has been cancelled. He further reduced beer by a further 1p per pint.
- A planned increase in fuel duty of 3p in September was also cancelled.
- He announced a new £3.5 billion initiative to boost the housing market, Help to Buy, which will offer an equity loan worth up to 20 per cent of the value of a new build home to anyone - not just first time buyers or households with incomes below £60,000.
Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, praised the Chancellor’s decisions to freeze fuel duty, cut beer duty, raise the personal allowance threshold and help those with aspirations of owning their own homes, with the Help to Buy scheme.
He said: “After raising in Parliament the damaging effects that the Beer Duty Escalator has had on pubs across the nation, I was really pleased to hear that the Chancellor will not only be scrapping the escalator but also reducing the duty by a penny per pint.
"Indeed, over 5,000 pubs across Yorkshire and the Humber will benefit from the scrapping of this unfair tax on responsible drinkers.
“I also welcome the Government’s decision to continue freezing Fuel Duty for the second year in a row, something which I know has been very difficult with £6 billion worth in revenues lost to date. However, this decision to scrap the expected rise in September will save 2.7 million motorists in Yorkshire over £170 per year and it shows that difficult decisions are worth making.
“It was fantastic to hear that personal allowance will rise to £10,000 much sooner than expected, I know that this will immensely benefit over 4,000 people in York Outer, who will be taken completely out of tax after April 2014 by this Government’s historic decision.
“On the downside as a long term campaigner on this issue, I was slightly disappointed that Transferable Tax Allowances for families was not mentioned in the Budget. However, based on the responses I’ve received from the Government to questions I’ve raised in Parliament, I remain hopeful that it is a future government aspiration.
“Finally, I’m really glad the Chancellor is taking positive steps to improve the housing market and get more houses built. By contributing 20 per cent of the costs through an interest free loan with their Help to Buy scheme, the Government will undoubtedly be lending a hand to a huge number of people. Homeownership gives people a stake in society and I’m really glad the government are giving more people the opportunity to achieve it.”
City of York Council leader James Alexander has said he was pleased to see the Budget pledge investment in housing, particularly for first and second-time buyers looking to "get on or move up the housing ladder".
"This is something we have been seeking in York for some time, where traditionally higher house prices have meant buyers needing larger deposits than elsewhere," he said.
He also welcomed a commitment to invest in transport and infrastructure, saying: "We will continue to lobby Government for funding to kickstart key sites in York and await news on the Critical Infrastructure Investment programme, expected this month and aimed at de-risking economically important growth sites - we consider the York Central site to be just that."
However, Coun Alexander said he had "significant concerns" about the Government's new Child Care Tax Credit scheme, saying: "It will not support those low-income families in receipt of Universal Credit or tax credits, who have already lost up to £1,500 in childcare support through cuts."
Simon Theakston, executive director of Masham brewer T&R Theakston Ltd, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the news. I never thought I would see the day when I would be actually pleased by a Chancellor’s announcement over beer duty.
"Cutting the beer tax will give enable the industry to step up investment in Britain's pubs and most importantly to help generate new jobs in a sector that encompasses both urban and rural communities.
"In addition to the cut in tax, the abolition of the loathed duty escalator can only help this further thus supporting one of the country's proudest home-grown industries.
"I would like to add my tribute to the huge number of licensees, members of the public and also local members of Parliament who have all supported this campaign. I shall be celebrating this evening with a pint of Yorkshire's finest."
Nick Emmerson, prospective Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the York Outer seat at the next General Election, has welcomed the raising of the Income Tax Personal Allowance to £10,000 from next April, a year earlier than expected.
He said this would mean 81,700 York residents getting "a further income tax cut" and meant 8,530 low-earners in the city will have been "lifted out of paying income tax completely" under the current Government.
"When times are tough, with rising bills and wages not keeping pace with inflation, we want to give people real, practical help," he said.
"Cutting income tax will not deal with all those problems, but it will help and I hope it will make a big difference to every family in this country."
Rob Theakston, managing director of the Black Sheep Brewery, has welcomed support for the brewing industry in today’s Budget.
He said: “This is the first time in years that we have had a chancellor who has listened to us and we welcome the scrapping of the duty escalator - it has been a long campaign to get to this point.
“Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton, has led an excellent campaign and we publicly thank him and his supporters for all their hard work in championing the cause of the beer and pub industry.
“We are delighted that we finally have a chancellor who recognises that the pub is the hub of the community and that beer is our country's national drink. Moreover, as cask beer can only be served in pubs, it is one of the most responsible forms of alcohol and finally the chancellor has recognised that fact - let's hope it encourages more people back into pubs to drink quality cask beer.
“The 1p reduction in duty on beer is the unexpected icing on the cake. A reduction is something we have not seen in years and it vindicates our calls that beer served in the pub is both a responsible and controllable way of consuming alcohol.
“Anything that brings the price of beer down, particularly cask beer, and encourages people into pubs is a good thing. It will help our business by reducing the already massive duty burden we carry, as well as the beleaguered pub trade, which has seen a continued increase in pub closure rates since the introduction of the beer duty escalator.
“Let's hope the chancellor continues to support the British pub and brewing industry in the future to get it back to where it belongs as one of the cornerstones of our national identity.”
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), said Chancellor George Osborne had failed to deliver an anti-poverty Budget that would boost living standards and ease the strain on poor families.
She said: “We needed an anti-poverty Budget to help struggling families, but what we heard today was a standstill Budget for a go-slow economy. At the time of the Autumn Statement, last December, I warned of a decade of destitution and I do so again today.
“The Chancellor faced a test: he needed to boost households incomes and help cut the cost of essentials. Neither were forthcoming and this Budget failed to do enough for low-income households.
“Growth must go hand-in-hand with helping the poorest families. Proper infrastructure – the provision of childcare and housing supply measures that help those excluded from the market – were needed to complement any building projects.
“Low-income families needing support weren’t asking for a miracle cure today - instead they sought urgent measures that would help lift their income, cut their costs and improve living standards.
"The early increase in the income tax personal allowance is a fillip for those who are able to benefit from it, but this is not an efficient way of targeting help on households in poverty.
“Recognising the burden of childcare costs is a start, but the extra help in the new tax-free childcare policy barely benefits those on the low incomes, nor makes up for the shortfall from previous cuts to childcare tax credits.
"Knowing support is coming in three years’ time provides little comfort for those who are struggling to make it through to the end of the week. With cuts to benefits and tax rises around the corner, the struggle for millions of poor families shows no sign of relenting.”
Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh said she was disappointed the Chancellor had not agreed a rural fuel duty rebate for parts of North Yorkshire, having pressed for this earlier in the week, but said the cancellation of the fuel duty increase was some good news for her constituents.
“This will be welcomed by many people in Thirsk, Malton and Filey, and overall the Budget measures show the Government is trying to help all those with aspirations who are trying to do their best for their families,” she said, picking out future childcare vouchers, mortgage help, tax cuts for new jobs with small companies and a commitment to raising personal allowances as the main benefits.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “This is absolutely brilliant news, and it will make George Osborne the toast of Britain’s pubs today. By cutting the tax on beer, he has moved to boost jobs in Britain’s pubs at a time when it is most needed.
“In also abolishing the beer tax escalator, the Chancellor has ended a hugely damaging policy that would have made Britain’s’ beer the most heavily taxed in Europe.
“This will protect thousands of jobs this year, and will allow us to create many new jobs in this brilliant industry.
“I want to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who have supported this campaign. This has been a broad and persuasive campaign uniting the industry and consumers. I hope this heralds the start of a long term change that recognises the benefits of beer and pubs, for the economy, and for society.”
Mike Benner, chief executive of CAMRA, said: "This is a momentous day for Britain's beer drinkers, who will tonight be raising a glass to the Chancellor for axing this damaging tax escalator and helping keep pub-going affordable for hard-pressed consumers. This decision will keep the lid on the cost of a pint down the pub.
“Since the duty escalator was introduced in 2008, 5,800 pubs have been forced to call last orders for good. What could have been the final nail in the coffin for our pubs has been decisively avoided by the Chancellor in a move that will spark celebration in pubs across the UK.
"Scrapping the beer duty escalator, combined with a 1p cut, is a massive vote of confidence in British pubs and will lead to an increase in pub going and more money in the Chancellor’s coffers.”
He added: “Today’s decision is a huge triumph for CAMRA’s pub campaigners who have been building overwhelming public support for a fair deal for beer and pubs, pub by pub and beer festival by beer festival. Over 108,000 consumers signed an e-petition and more than 8,000 consumers have written to their MP calling for a fair deal for beer and pubs. A Mass Lobby Day organised by CAMRA saw over 200 MPs meet with their constituents who highlighted the severe damage caused by the escalator.”
Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith welcomed support for the brewing and pub industry after the Beer Duty Escalator was scrapped and 1p was cut from the price of a pint.
“The industry is hugely important in Skipton and Ripon, with world-famous names such as Theakston’s Black Sheep and Copper Dragon based in the constituency and some of the world’s finest pubs,” he said.
“The news that the Escalator is being lifted and not only the planned increase being cancelled, but a 1p per pint cut, will be a major boost for the industry and for our rural pubs, which are so often at the heart of our community.”