The North East Chamber of Commerce has given its detailed reaction to measures announced in today’s Budget.
Overall, the region’s largest membership organisation was pleased with the announcements, which were seen as relatively positive although it was thought that some major announcements were bypassed.
NECC Director of Policy, Ross Smith said: “There have been several positive announcements made by the Chancellor. The elimination of National Insurance payments for Under 21s and the abolition of the annual tax return will make life much easier for our smaller business members and contribute to the positive employment figures released on Wednesday morning.”
Although the NECC welcomed positive updates from the Chancellor the organisation will continue to push for more powerful action on a series of vital issues. Ross said: “While there have been promises made around business rate reform, annual investment allowances and northern transport, we are yet to see action. Actions speaking louder than words and these issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency by whoever is in the Treasury after the election.”
With regards to International Trade, NECC Policy and Research Manager Mark Stephenson was pleased to see more resource promised to enhance the UK’s exports to the Chinese market. He said: “Funding additional trade missions will be incredibly helpful to our members who work in overseas markets; this will help many companies get into markets for the first time. There is a huge opportunity for companies in the North East in terms of exporting and we hope George Osborne will now look at increasing support in many more emerging markets, so that this opportunity can be grabbed with both hands.
On ultra fast broadband, Mark said: “This is a very worthwhile commitment and builds on positive developments we have already seen. But as with other areas of infrastructure, we would like to see a detailed plan with timescales for implementation.”
There was good news for North Sea industry. Mark Stephenson said: “These strong measures announced on oil and gas will help the excellent businesses and 65,000 people employed in the sector in the North East and we’re sure our members will welcome the news.”
On annual tax returns, NECC Policy Adviser Rachel Travis said: “We were pleased with the abolition of the annual tax return, as this will be good news for many of the NECC’s smaller business members who find themselves tangled in red tape each year.”
On reductions to National Insurance, Rachel Travis said: “This is a positive step that will encourage businesses to create opportunities for the talented young people in our region and further invest in training.”
The announcement around the chemical industries was also welcomed by NECC. NECC Head of Member Relations Rachel Anderson said: “Providing£1m to the Centre for Process Innovation is the kind of investment the industry needs and I look forward to seeing this in place.”
Tourism was also given a mention, with the Government backing reinstatement of the ferry from Norway to Newcastle. Head of Member Relations Jonathan Walker said: “The announcement to provide £300,000 funding for a new marketing campaign to promote the tourism links between Newcastle and Scandinavia is great news. Tourism is a valuable commodity in the North East and it provides an incredible knock on effect for many local businesses.”