Sheffield’s verdict on Osborne’s financial plan

Budget reaction
Budget reaction
0
Have your say

Sheffield residents have given a ‘lukewarm’ reaction to the last Budget before this year’s general election.

Measures announced during a rowdy Commons session yesterday included an increase in the personal tax allowance, help for savers and first-time buyers, plus the always popular cut to beer duty.

The north and Yorkshire was the cause of much debate and clashes between political leaders – as was the absence of NHS measures.

Sheffield is also now set to get £14 million for a research centre as part of the Olympic Legacy Park at the old Don Valley Stadium site and £3.5m to make a business incubator.

But The Star’s Budget case studies – from a family to motorist – questioned whether the changes will increase cash in their pockets.

The family - Bank worker Louise Colgate with daughters Megan and Hannah

I don’t think there is a lot for families in this Budget”, said mum Louise Colgate.

The bank worker has two daughters – eight-year-old Megan and Hannah, aged four – with husband John, who runs his own business.

Announcements in the Budget yesterday included the personal income tax allowance rising from £10,000 to £10,600 this year, then £10,800 and then up to £11,000 in 2017-18.

Louise, of High Storrs, said: “There are bits like the tax allowance and fuel duty, but I have seen nothing in terms of helping families with childcare such as nursery fees and children’s clubs which we use.

“We use the salary sacrifice which is capped at £243 per person, but it’s not gone up for years, so there is nothing in the Budget that seems to be helping families with young children.

“The tax allowance is going up a bit, but it is tiny.”

Other measures outlined by Chancellor George Osborne include changes to savings.

The annual savings limit for ISAs is to be increased to £15,240, and flexible ISAs will allow savers to withdraw money and put it back later in the year without losing any of their tax-free allowance.

A new ‘Help to Buy’ ISA for first-time buyers will mean the Government tops up every £200 saved for a house deposit by £50.

Louise said: “The ISA allowance is going up, but most people with young families haven’t got the money to put in an ISA in the first place.

“It’s good if the deposit scheme helps people to get on the property ladder, but the problem is in people getting together the £200 to save – it will still take them 10 years. It seems they are helping first-time buyers and pensioners more.”

The pensioner - Val Wilson

On a state pension of £168 a week, Val Wilson is certainly not one of the few affected by changes to the pension pot lifetime allowance.

The 65-year-old would have to claim her pension for more than 100 years to qualify for the reduction in lifetime allowance from £1.25 million to £1m.

And she hit back at Chancellor George Osborne’s claim that inequality was down and fewer pensioners were in poverty.

Val – who worked as a cleaner, barmaid and in a snooker club – said: “People are still struggling . Pensions might go up a bit but then so does the rent so you don’t benefit from it.

“I do think there should have been more for elderly people – there’s nothing for ordinary pensioners.

“They never do anything for ordinary people – George Osborne won’t have needed to go in a home or anything like that.”

Val, of Wincobank, spoke out at a Sheffield Council meeting this year over cuts which axed the city’s FreeBee bus.

More austerity, including £12 billion of welfare cuts and £13bn to Government departments, was announced in the Budget.

Mr Osborne said austerity would end a year earlier than planned, in 2019.

But Val said: “I think they are all in it for themselves.”

The businesswoman - Sophie Cooke

“This spells the death of the annual tax return,” was the dramatic quote from Chancellor George Osborne in yesterday’s Budget.

It was announced that end-of-year paper tax returns will be replaced by ‘real-time online accounts ‘by 2020.

The aim would be to help people pay their tax at any time during the year rather than the annual rush in January.

Hillsborough resident and businesswoman Sophie Cooke, who owns milliner and bespoke design firm Imogen’s Imagination, said: “I think that will be interesting but I don’t do my tax return, I pay an accountant to do it.

“I don’t know whether that will change because of this.

“It’s great for some people but I think it will be horses for courses.”

Also announced in the budget was more support for creative industries and the media including local newspapers, the video game industry, orchestras and video gaming.

Sophie, who is running a pop up hat shop in the Winter Garden with collaborators this week, said: “I’d be really interested to hear how more support for the creative industries works.”

The switch to real time online tax accounts is expected to start with five million small businesses and the first 10 million individuals in early 2016.

The pub landlord - John Harrison

One of Sheffield’s newest pub landlords described the cuts to beer, cider and whisky duty as a ‘hat-trick’ of savings.

But John Harrison, co-founder of micropub The Beerhouse on Ecclesall Road, pointed out the saving was equivalent to about one pint in every 300.

He said: “I think it’s quite good, a hat-trick of beer cuts, although I don’t like to praise a Tory chancellor.

“Two years ago, they were talking about putting it up 6p, but if you think 16,000 jobs have been created in the brewing industry last year, real ale is the fastest growing market and Sheffield is the real ale capital, then it is clear this is a business they should be supporting.”

Beer duty was cut by 1p a pint for the third year.

Duty on cider and spirits such as Scotch whisky will be cut by 2 per cent to back exports and wine duty will also be frozen.

John joked: “The south gets cider, the north gets beer and Scotland gets the whisky saving.

“The Beerhouse will pass on the saving of 1p per pint to customers, but I don’t think you will see much of a reduction across the whole industry.”

No extra changes to duties on tobacco were announced yesterday.

However, the price of cigarettes still rose 20p per packet of 20 due to a rise in retail inflation.

The motorist - Paul Jacklin

Driving instructor Paul Jacklin clocks up between 300 and 500 miles a week while teaching budding drivers.

The owner of Jack & Jill School of Motoring, who lives in Rotherham, had a ‘lukewarm’ reaction to the freezing of petrol duty in the Budget again.

An increase was planned for September and Chancellor George Osborne said this was the longest fuel duty freeze ‘for 20 years’.

Campaign group FairFuelUK wrote to the Chancellor asking him to cut fuel duty by 3 pence per litre and said previous freezes had saved the average family more than £365 a year.

Paul said: “Petrol had gone down to about £1.03 pence and it’s just gone back up for around £1.10 so I was expecting more.

“I’ve been quite surprised because this is a pre election budget so they are trying to woo voters more than anything – but there is nothing in there that would encourage me to vote for them.

“If the planned increase was 3 pence a litre and I fill up with around 40 litres a week that’s probably a saving of around £2,50 a week.

“It’s not something I’m going to celebrate with my 1p off a pint – I couldn’t buy a pint for £2.50 but I could probably get a half.”

FairFuelUK says the UK is the highest taxed nation when it comes to fuel.

More from the budget

Austerity

Chancellor George Osborne said austerity measures would end a year early, in 2019-20, and claimed families were £900 a year better off than they were in 2010.

However, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Doncaster North MP, said ‘extreme’ cuts were still to come and at a faster pace than previously. Plans include reducing £12 billion from welfare and £13bn from Government departments.

Jobs

The ‘great county’ of Yorkshire had seen more jobs created in the last year than the whole of France, Mr Osborne told the Commons. He said the north had grown faster than the south. However, Mr Miliband said Mr Osborne was no friend of the north, questioned why only Manchester would be allowed to retain business rates and said many new jobs were on zero-hour contracts.

Veterans

£25m of extra support for veterans – including nuclear test veterans – was pledged.

Pensions

The law will be changed to allow pensioners to access their annuities, with a 55 per cent tax charge abolished and tax applied at the marginal rate.

Growth

The UK economy grew 2.6 per cent in 2014, faster than others, but less than 3 per cent predicted.