George Osborne’s plans to boost British exports and give consumers more money to play with, in a “Made In Britain” budget, was broadly welcomed by retailers.
The Chancellor said on Wednesday how he wished to trigger a fresh wave of UK manufacturing so that anywhere people went in the world, they could not fail to see the mark: “Made In Britain”. Osborne said he wanted British industry to “outcompete” and “outsmart” the rest of the world.
Personal allowance – the amount of income consumers keep before paying tax – was increased to £10,500, but announcing ISA and pension saving incentives, Osborne said people should be legislating for the long-term.
Companies in premises with rateable values up to £50,000 will get discounts worth £1,000 for a further two years, and businesses moving into vacant high street properties will get a 50% discount.
Osborne also unveiled a redesigned pound coin (“a pound for a sound economy”), and gave Class 2 National Insurance Contributions a self-assessment system, which he promised would cut bureaucracy for independent businesses.
But besides the extended business rates refund, he remained silent on the industry’s ongoing consultation about how business rates are valued. The British Retail Consortium will publish further research on this in May.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said “The whole retail industry will welcome the extension of the annual investment allowance.
“The priority for our industry remains the reform of business rates so that we can make optimum use of physical space in a changing retail world.”
Simon Tivey, head of rating, PwC, agreed retailers would benefit: “The £1,000 rate relief for retailers that has been continued into next year is a real boost for small shops and will be well-received. This amounts to a £750 million injection into the high street.
“This taken together with the three year reoccupation scheme, should be a major help towards reinvigorating the high street.”
Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said: “There are sizeable gains for UK manufacturers here in particular over the next few years. The Chancellor has thrown his weight behind getting more businesses exporting.
“Our membership is confident about growth but much of that growth is UK based so we needed to see such a commitment, though we will continue to work with the Treasury and others to develop even healthier export subsidies for business.”