"The Budget, was that today?" Osborne Road reacts to Chancellor's economic plans (From The Northern Echo)
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"The Budget, was that today?" Osborne Road reacts to Chancellor's economic plans
ONE is a millionaire politician, top Tory strategist, and the man with Britain’s financial future in his hands; the other is a street of 18 two-bed, £125,000 houses.
What do they have in common? Only a name, it seems, as Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget today fell on deaf ears in Osborne Road, Spennymoor.
Up and down the quiet row of terraced, red-brick houses, nobody seemed to know or care what their namesake in Westminster was doing. From pensioners to parents, not one had been watching the announcement, and not one knew what had been said.
It is hardly surprising. The local pub has already been demolished and turned into flats, so the cut in beer tax will mean little. The nearby petrol station is already charging nearly £1.40 for a litre of unleaded, so the news that it won’t go up again is hardly reason to celebrate. And working parents, who will be getting £1,200 of free childcare vouchers per child, are all too busy working to have noticed.
One father, a shift worker, who was leaving his house to pick his children up from school, summed up the mood of the street when he told The Northern Echo: “The Budget? Was that today? I have no idea what was in it and to be honest with you, I couldn’t really care less.”
Somewhere that was more familiar with cuts, both budgetary and otherwise, was Top to Toe, a hairdressers and beauty salon that looks down Osborne Road from Main Street. It started off as a tanning parlour ten years ago and has been steadily expanding since, swallowing up two adjacent properties.
Joyce Campion is the secretary, and a sister of the manager, Anne. She has worked there since 2008 after she was made redundant from nearby Black and Decker when it closed. She said: “I support free childcare for working parents, because I think everybody should be out there working right now, not staying at home.
“Around here it’s difficult though. Down in the town centre the council has put business rates up so high that everywhere keeps closing down, it’s really bad.
"There’s a couple of charity shops, a few hairdressers, the council building, and that’s it. New places keep opening up but within six months they’ve closed down again because they just can’t afford it. People want to open new places, but I think they do need more help.”
The Budget did bring some relief for small businesses, as the Employment Allowance will mean 450,000 will pay no National Insurance from April next year. But because council budgets are due to be cut even further they will have to turn to measures like increasing business rates to make up for the shortfall.
Darren Spence has been a stylist at the Top to Toe for the last four years, and has been cutting hair for the last twenty.
He said: “I started here four years ago when they opened the hairdressers and I haven’t seen business change in that time. I’m fully booked on most days. I probably see between 80 and 100 clients a week.
“To be honest we’re so busy I think the owner would like to expand, but they won’t let him make the shop any bigger. The only way we’d get a bigger place is if we moved further into town but because of the rates we won’t.
“It’s good news about the beer though. I can have a cheap pint on Friday at least.”
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