Budget triggers mixed response

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LAST week’s Budget has met with a mixed response in south east Northumberland.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has hit out at Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Budget, saying it will leave families worse off, but one Blyth business has welcomed its efforts to encourage investment in industry.

As well as knocking a penny off the price of a litre of petrol, Mr Osborne, pictured, is reducing corporation tax by two per cent and raising workers’ personal tax allowance.

He also announced plans for a new enterprise zone for Tyneside extending into Northumberland to boost investment and job opportunities.

Mr Lavery claims those proposals will not help.

He said: “George Osborne’s reckless policies to cut too deep and too fast are hurting families here in Wansbeck.

“In this Budget, the Tories have confirmed the banks will get a tax cut this year while 10,235 families in Wansbeck will see their child benefit frozen and will pay an average extra of £450 in VAT this year.

“Families earning as little as £26,000 are set to lose their tax credits next year too.

“The VAT rise and cuts which go too deep and too fast are driving up unemployment again.

“On petrol prices, the government should have gone further.”

However, the Budget has been welcomed by Blyth manufacturing firm Tharsus.

It now employs more than 100 people after being set up in 1964 as a welding and sheet metal company.

The company reinvented itself two years ago as a developer and manufacturer of complex electro-mechanical products and is expecting to see a turnover of £10m this year.

Graham Hatt, its commercial director, said: “The Budget took some steps to try to enable the UK’s manufacturing sector to expand.

“Mr Osborne and the coalition government have turned their attention to policies that support growth, which is great news for the manufacturing industry.

“His announcement of 21 enterprise zones backed by tax incentives, one of which will be in Tyneside, is a good move.

“This will definitely encourage private investment and encourage growth in the private sector in regions it is needed most.”

Mr Hatt also praised incentives for investment in green energy and plans for further investment in apprentices.

Campaigners out to help people stop smoking have welcomed the above-inflation rise on cigarettes – an extra 50p per packet of 20.

Ailsa Rutter, director of the north east anti-smoking campaign Fresh, said: “We welcome any above-inflation price rise for one vital reason – because it will save more lives and stop more children starting to smoke.

“Price is still by far the most effective measure to stop people smoking.

“More and more, we are seeing cheap, legal tobacco promoted at discount prices in our shops and around pubs and clubs by the tobacco industry.

“Moves to reduce the price gap of cheap hand-rolled tobacco and budget brands will also be effective, especially at discouraging young people.”