Business reaction largely positive

Glynn Roberts of NIIRTA
Glynn Roberts of NIIRTA

A budget for manufacturers, retailers and businesses in general sums up the reaction to George Osborne’s performance within the business community.

From the independent retail sector Glyn Roberts, CEO of lobby group NIIRTA, said: “The retail sector has a key role in providing high quality apprentices and it is welcome that from April 2016 employers’ National Insurance contributions will be abolished to further incentivise our members taking on apprentices.

“The Chancellor outlined new City deals in Manchester and West Yorkshire, giving them greater economic powers –this is something NIIRTA would like to see for our five cities in Northern Ireland.”

For Manufacturing Northern Ireland, CEO Stephen Kelly said: “The freeze of fuel duties will be welcomed given our reliance on freight transport, as will the £1.3bn package of measures to support the North Sea oil and gas industry. Led by Harland and Wolff, many local manufacturers depend on sizeable contracts from this sector and interventions to support the success of the North Sea industry is good news.”

Ann McGregor, CEO of the NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Lower business taxes, allowances for investment, and targeted support for sectors and small companies all contribute to confidence, investment and job creation.”

Institute of Directors director Linda Brown said: “IoD members have, for a long time, called for action on income tax thresholds and I am therefore encouraged to see an increase in personal tax-free allowance from April 2017.

“The self-employed and SMEs will no doubt welcome the digitalisation of tax return which should significantly relieve the pressure on them as the financial year end approaches.”

For the CBI, NI director Nigel Smyth said: “With business investment a crucial driver of growth, the Chancellor has signalled his intention to continue the Annual Investment Allowance. We want it to be made permanent in the Autumn Statement at £250,000 - this will encourage small and medium sized firms to invest and drive future growth.”