Chancellor George Osbourne promised yesterday’s Budget would be ‘for people who aspire to work hard and get on’, The Star spoke to a cross-section of South Yorkshire readers to see what they thought of the Government’s announcements, and whether they think the Budget will benefit them.
NEW dad Alistair Myers was pleased with yesterday’s Budget announcements, which he said should help he and wife Toni plan for the years ahead with their three-and-a-half-month-old son, Oscar.
Alistair, 29, lives near Heeley, Sheffield, and is manager of foodie pub The Devonshire Arms at Middle Handley near Eckington. He drives 12 miles to and from work each day. Wife Toni, 28, is on maternity leave from her job as reservations manager at The Rutland Hotel in Broomhill, and baby Oscar was born in December.
“We are quite good at managing our money as a family, but should benefit from a few tweaks here and there thanks to the Budget,” said Alistair.
“The raising of the personal allowance income tax threshold should help us make some decisions when Toni goes back to work, and I’ll see a bit of a saving in my wage too.
“There will be 20 per cent tax relief on childcare vouchers up to £6,000 from 2015 - and, although that doesn’t affect us yet, it might do by then. For now we are lucky that Toni’s parents give us a lot of support.
“The scrapping of the petrol duty escalator is good - petrol just keeps going up, and that was one of the considerations when I took my current job. Previously I was driving to Baslow for work, and that was very expensive. Even now we fill up two or three tanks between us a month, and that’s £220. It’s good to know it isn’t going to go up even more.
“The penny off beer is good news for the pub. We’re more food-led than drink, but we want people to come and have a good time, and real ale is a heritage for the UK that deserves to be supported.”
SCRAPPING jobs tax for small businesses means home-grown Sheffield firms should be able to consider expanding for the first time.
That’s the view of self-employed Hendrika Stephens, who runs the Corner Gallery in Heeley.
Yesterday’s Budget announcement included news the first £2,000 will be taken off National Insurance paid by every company. Chancellor George Osborne said it meant 450,000 small businesses would pay no ‘jobs tax’ at all.
Hendrika, of Firth Park, said: “With smaller businesses, one of the problems with taking somebody on is the cost. This help makes it possible for small businesses like mine to look at employing and expanding, which is really important.
“It might mean people who only work part time can be employed full time.
“I’m taking on an apprentice in conjunction with Heeley Bank, so if the support for apprentices is going to be ongoing too it is a great way to get people into employment.”
Personal tax allowance was also raised to £10,000 from next year, and a planned rise in fuel duty was scrapped.
Hendrika, aged 43, said both would benefit her, the non-profit Corner Gallery, and other businesses involved in the Sheffield Antiques Quarter she helps to co-ordinate.
She added: “I travel across town all the time and it’s the same for most people running their own businesses. I was looking for real help for small businesses in the Budget, and I think it seems like it is in the right place.”
RETIRED primary school teacher Philip Johnson received a letter from the tax office only yesterday detailing his pension entitlement - good timing for the Budget yesterday afternoon.
He welcomed news the Government is bringing forward plans for a new flat rate state pension of £144 a week, from April 2016, as simplifying the system.
“My pension statement contains a lot of information with allowances on this and that of pence at a time,” said Philip, 65, who lives in Kingstone, Barnsley.
“A flat rate should make things simpler, and make me a bit better off. I get about £119 a week now before tax, so £144 a week would work out about £116 a week after tax.”
Philip is married to Trish, 63, a retired Barnsley Hospital occupational therapist, and between them the couple have five children.
“I drive quite a lot, to see my son in London and the stepchildren in Bicester and Ascot,” said Philip, “so the cancellation of the September fuel duty rise is good news.
“And I do enjoy a pint of beer, so the penny off a pint is not much but it’s welcome. I was out only yesterday for a walk then a pint in The Farmer’s Boy at Shepley near Penistone. Anything that helps good pubs thrive and micro-breweries to do business is welcome.”
SINGLE mum Lianne Rollitt has been out of work for nearly four years, and is fed up of searching unsuccessfully for a new job.
She lives in Stannington with her son Luke, 20, a college student hoping to go on to university next year.
“I used to work at Morrison’s supermarket on the deli counter, but I left for a different career,” said Lianne, 42. “If I’d known how hard it would be to find another job I would never have left.
“I live in a council house and I’ve got meters for my gas and electricity, and the only benefit I get is job seekers’ allowance. But, you have to manage. There are people worse off than me.
“The rise in the personal allowance is good I suppose, if I do get a job.”
FORMER Sheffield Motorists’ Forum member Mac Millard was non-plussed by the Chancellor’s announcement on fuel.
“It’s good news the duty escalator has been scrapped,” he said, “but will it make much difference? Petrol is so expensive even a small decrease doesn’t make much odds. If it came down to £1 a litre, that would be worth talking about.”
Grandfather-of-five Mac, 76, from Longley, drives his Toyota iQ every day, and spends £12 extra on fuel each week than he did when he got the car three years ago.
“For my next car I am thinking about a hybrid, mostly because of the price of fuel,” he said. “The mileage to the gallon is fantastic by comparison.”
Retired postman Mac was pleased by the flat rate state pension change from 2016.
“If I’m around by then it will be extra money in my pocket,” he laughed. “It should be an extra £80 a month or so, which would be worth having.”
SHEFFIELD architect David Cross said yesterday’s Budget was ‘music to his ears’ in kickstarting the housing market.
The Government extended shared equity schemes to all home-buyers, not just first-timers, with interest-free loans of up to 20 per cent on buying new build properties. It also pledged bank guarantees to underpin £130bn of new mortgage lending for three years from 2014.
“This can’t come too soon as far as I am concerned,” said David, 37.
David is MD of architectural practice Coda Studios based on Mowbray Street. Current projects include 40 eco-friendly houses and apartments in Shalesmoor, and a housing scheme in Thurnscoe, Barnsley.
“Anything to kickstart construction will be great for my business,” said David, who lives in an eco-home he built on Darwin Lane in Crosspool.
“This will give banks the confidence to lend to developers, because when a development is finished there will be mortgages available for buyers.
“Housing is already coming back strongly in the last six months, with much more confidence and enquiries to match 2007 levels. This should help the market pick up even more.”
David, who is married to wife Toni, 27, and has two children Ava, six, and Fred, four, also welcomed the cut in corporation tax for his firm, which employs 20 staff including one apprentice, and the relief on employers’ NI contributions.
He also applauded tax relief on childcare vouchers from 2015.
“Although Fred will be at school by then, it should help other people. Childcare is phenomenally expensive, with staff paid minimum wage and parents charged maximum fees.”