DCSIMG

Cheers or small beer ?

Local bosses are waiting to see the finer details behind the Chancellor’s budget bullet points before giving him the thumbs up or thumbs down.

But industry leaders have already said they expected more from Tory George Osborne.

Not surprising Lib Dem coalition partner Michael Moore has thrown his weight behind the finance chief.

But, despite raising the amount people can earn before paying tax, trades union leaders say the budget fails those on low pay.

However, he’s the toast of the drinks trade – cutting beer by 1p a pint and giving the whisky industry its long-called for tax boost.

Bruce Simpson, the vice convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce reacted within minutes of the Chancellor sitting down.

He told The Southern: “The extra assistance for exporting, manufacturing, construction, investment allowances and energy costs is welcomed.

“We did hope more could have been offered on the business rates issue in Scotland where rates are punitive, with no transitional allowance.

“But as with all budget announcements, the meat is in the small print, which we will no doubt learn more about over the next few days.”

Mr Moore said the budget meant an £800 tax cut for 39,000 people in the Borders.

He commented: “This is an important budget for families, pensioners and savers, across the Borders.

“The Liberal Democrats in government are providing further tax cuts for people on low income, more affordable childcare and continuing the freeze on fuel duty, which is important in a rural area.

“Now that the economy is getting back on track, these further announcements are very welcome.”

But Grahame Smith, the general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, disagreed.

He commented: “With the majority of spending cuts yet to be implemented and the unprecedented decline in real wages ongoing, there was nothing in this budget to help the low paid or those out of work. This government is clearly relaxed about falling living standards.”

With possibly two distilleries being opened in the Borders, the whisky tax freeze and removal of the alcohol duty escalator is seen as good news.

David Frost of the Scotch Whisky Association said: “It supports hard-pressed consumers, a major manufacturing and export industry and the wider hospitality sector.”

Coupled with the 1p a pint beer cut,this prompted Brigid Simmons of the Beer and Pub Association to describe the chancellor as the toast of brewers, pubs and pub-goers.

 

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