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Budget: Raising a glass to Chancellor's changes
Buy this photo » Drinkers at Far From The Madding Crowd in Oxford, including Camra's Tony Goulding, front, toast the cut in tax on beer
CHANCELLOR George Osborne’s Budget for an ‘aspiration nation’ was last night welcomed by county business leaders, drivers, beer drinkers and homebuyers.
Mr Osborne scrapped the beer duty escalator and knocked a penny off a pint, scrapped the 3p-a-litre fuel duty rise planned for September and announced a 20 per cent interest-free loan for people wanting to buy a new-build house, along with guarantees for mortgage lenders to support buyers.
Small firms also stand to gain with £2,000 knocked off their National Insurance (NI) bills; corporation tax will also be cut by a further one percentage point to 20 per cent in April 2015, and pensioners will benefit from a flat payment of £144 a week from 2016.
And spending on roads and infrastructure projects such as railways and broadband looks set to soar.
Tony Goulding, secretary of the Oxford Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), urged people to celebrate the cut in beer duty by visiting their local.
He said: “Let’s get everyone out to celebrate, not just a 1p decrease, but the scrapping of what could have been a 10p price increase.
“Let’s hope that we can continue this and level the playing field with supermarket prices.”
Peter Carpinelli, managing director of Linden Homes Thames Valley, based at Milton Park, near Didcot, was “delighted” with the introduction of the Help to Buy homes initiative.
He said: “These revised plans now open up the options for even more people to get on the property ladder.
“This support from Government will boost the economy and the housebuilding industry, and help fulfil the demand for more housing.
“We are also interested to learn more about the new mortgage guarantee system scheduled for 2014, which will help families who have previously wanted to take out a mortgage but need extra support.”
Margaret Coles, chairwoman of the Oxfordshire Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The NIe break is great for businesses who have suffered a swingeing 12 per cent levy. This will encourage small firms to employ more people.
“Scrapping the fuel duty also makes a huge difference to rural businesses and getting rid of the beer escalator will help pubs, many of which make up the social fabric of villages.”
Ian Wenman, vice-president of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said the biggest impact could be plans to boost infrastructure spending by £3bn a year from 2015/16, with £15bn earmarked over the next decade.
He said: “That should give us better road links. We are looking at various ways and means of doing it.”
The cash will be allocated directly to the LEP rather than to council coffers.
County LEP board member and president of the Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce Nigel Wild said: “We don’t know how much it will be but examples of projects include the new ‘hamburger’ roundabout on the A34 Milton interchange and work on the Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts.”
Extra financial pressures in Oxfordshire from April 1
- Car parking charges to rise in Oxford by two per cent
- Park-and-ride parking charges to rise from £1.50 to £2 per day at Seacourt, Peartree and Redbridge
- Daytime and long-stay parking charges to be introduced at Thornhill and Water Eaton park-and-ride facilities
- Social housing rents to rise by 4.7 per cent in Oxford
- £46m of extra savings at County Hall, including £18.5m from adult social care budgets and £1.01m from the road maintenance budget over five years
- Council tax rises across the county, as high as two per cent for some areas