Osborne fails on manufacturing

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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s claim to have created a Budget that “unashamedly backs business” failed to convince local business leaders.

Electrification of the railway line between Sheffield and Manchester, the £3 billion investment in North Sea exploration and new backing for exporters were the measure most welcomed by local business.

But there was concern that the Chancellor only mentioned manufacturing and apprenticeships once and failed to heed calls to encourage investment by boosting capital allowances.

“The big thing is the £130m investment in the railways,” said entrepreneur Kevin Parkin.

“The simplification of taxation for small firms is a good thing and the £3bn North Sea development sounds exciting.”

He says North Sea investment could help local companies specialising in hi-tech engineering for oil exploration, who had seen demand fall after last year’s North Sea oil tax hike.

Chris Humphreys, partner in charge of accountants PKF’s Sheffield office, was disappointed that Small and Medium Sized Enterprises would miss out on cuts in Corporation Tax.

“The Chancellor is looking for businesses to grow, but the Budget was lacking in incentives. It needed to be more focussed,” he said.

Martin McKervey, partner at law firm Nabarro, said many businesses would be disappointed by the failure to cut National Insurance Contributions.

Cutlers Company Senior Warden Neil MacDonald was disappointed by the lack of measures to boost jobs and advanced apprenticeships, but thought the Chancellor hadn’t done a bad job overall.

Local Enterprise Partnership digital sector group chief Lee Strafford was unconcerned by Sheffield’s absence from a new Government Broadband investment programme, stressing other cities were lagging behind thanks to South Yorkshire’s Digital Region initiative.