Business Editor Mike Hughes rounds up reaction to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Budget.


Womble Bond Dickinson

Kevin Bell, Partner in the Transport and Infrastructure Team at Womble Bond Dickinson, said: "In his Budget, the Chancellor acknowledged the "historic under-investment" in the nations and regions in confirming that more powers will be devolved to local areas. The North East trailblazer devolution deal announced this afternoon promised to provide a package of support for the region potentially worth over an extra £100 million to the previously announced £4.2 billion devolution deal.

"From a transport perspective, this includes £58 million of funding brought forward to cover the maintenance and renewal of the Tyne and Wear Metro, the expansion of the Pop card to local rail services and the creation of a new North East Rail Board to develop plans for new rail infrastructure and services in the North East.

The Northern Echo: Kevin BellKevin Bell


"But as the political party that openly admit they are "on the side of drivers", have the Conservatives missed a real opportunity in driving down the cost of public transport and encouraging active travel by freezing fuel duties for yet another 12 months and extending the temporary cut on fuel duty that was due to end later this month? Interesting to note that the DfT will receive a 32% budget reduction in the coming year too, placing further pressure on public transport services."

Corporate finance partner Robert Phillips said:  "From a North East perspective, there is not much new or of note to be particularly excited by.  

"Any funding for our region is welcomed – but if we wanted to be cynical, a number of the areas identified (specifically the £58m of funding identified to cover maintenance and renewal of the Tyne and Wear Metro System) should already have been funded within the ability of local authority budgets to fund – real cuts here have been made historically – so we could argue that this is just gap filling.

"Again, being critical, these sums lumped into a single "fund" are relatively small in the context of other announcements that were made when thinking about "levelling up" - especially in the context of the substantial funding announced for Canary Wharf and Surrey and other areas of the South East (whose economies are all predicted to grow at greater rates than the regions by EY's economic forecast published by the EY Item Club)."

The Northern Echo: Dale ArmstrongDale Armstrong (Image: Submitted)

Dale Armstrong, managing associate in Womble Bond Dickinson's real estate team, added: "The main announcement relating to the Housing sector in the budget was the abolishment of SDLT multiple dwellings relief (MDR). 

"Perhaps the most interesting element for the Housing sector, sadly, is what the budget didn't say. There was a total lack of announcements to help stimulate more housing delivery. There was some hope that the budget may contain market stimulus or additional investment or policies to assist the planning system and unlock the housing that is currently stuck within that system, but that did not materialise."


John McCabe, chief executive at the North East Chamber of Commerce, said:  "The announcement of a trailblazer devolution deal for our new North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) is a massive boost for the region. It will be warmly welcomed by our members and demonstrates the government’s belief in the North East to get the job done.

The Northern Echo: John McCabeJohn McCabe (Image: Press release)

"Today is a huge moment for the North East’s creative industries and for the region’s business landscape. Crown Works Studios will deliver jobs and opportunities on a scale not seen from a single development for very many years. I am sure I speak on behalf of businesses across the region when I say this is a most welcome development and a huge vote of confidence in the North East, something we will pay back in spades.

"While there was some very significant good news for the North East in this Budget, we are very concerned about the further cuts to a wide range of public services. On taxation, the Chancellor made much of his cut to National Insurance, however funding this while increasing the overall tax burden is counterproductive. "



Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Policy Chair Tina McKenzie said: “We welcome today’s increase in the VAT threshold as well as the cut to self-employed National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

"Elsewhere, we were pleased to see a package of small business support in the Budget documents, including commitments to make progress on the HMRC administrative burden and on the national roll-out of the Business Energy Advice Service, as well as extending the Recovery Loan Scheme under a new name - the Growth Guarantee Scheme. Small firms are crucial for economic growth, and we were glad the Chancellor said that clearly from the despatch box."


Terry Jones, Head of BDO in Yorkshire and the North East, said: “The Chancellor was under pressure to deliver tax cuts and while this wasn’t forthcoming for businesses, with some hoping there would be a reduction to corporation tax signposted, taxpayers will welcome the national insurance cuts announced.

“Despite being pitched as a Budget for long-term growth, there was very little for business. The only obvious winner being the creative industries. Employers will welcome the measures announced today around lifting the child benefit threshold to £60,000 as it will help employees. For smaller businesses, lifting the threshold for VAT registration to £90,000 will be popular despite being limited. The proposed extension of full expensing to leased assets may also encourage investment by businesses in the region."



Anthony Andreasen, director at Gosforth-based RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, says: “In a climate where the North East and wider UK economy is continuing to battle against significant headwinds, the Chancellor’s lengthy speech provided some encouragement for regional businesses, but may well have left many others wanting more.

“The increase of the VAT registration threshold from £85,000 to £90,000 will make a difference to some small businesses and self-employed people, and may encourage customers to make new or additional investment with them, but it does not go as far as some had called for and does not fully balance the impact of this threshold having been static for the last seven years.

The Northern Echo: Anthony AndreasenAnthony Andreasen (Image: RMT)

“The much-trailed reduction in National Insurance contributions for individuals and the self-employed is balanced by the continuing freeze in personal allowances, and with the rate of inflation still well ahead of the Bank of England’s two per cent target, many people are still likely to paying out at least as much as they’re getting back."


Richard Bradbury, managing director of Theakston’s Brewery said: “The UK already holds one of the highest excise rates in Europe and against a backdrop of continually rising running costs for pubs, we welcome the duty freeze on alcohol announced in the Chancellor’s Budget.

"From increases to the national minimum wage, rising energy costs and reduced spending due to the cost-of-living crisis, the pressures pubs face continue to mount so it is a comfort to know that at least one cost is held. According to the Campaign for Real Ale, more than 1,200 pubs have closed in the past year alone so measures which give pubs a fighting chance to survive should be welcomed."