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Businesses across Lancashire have reacted with disappointment to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget.

More than 60 decision-makers from across the county made their feelings known at a special Budget Breakfast event at Preston College, a day after the Chancellor’s announcement.

Many were frustrated at the lack of new business incentives which could add extra investment into the local economy but welcomed the changes in NI contributions for employees saying.

Organised by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by MHA Moore & Smalley, the Budget Breakfast dissected the promises from Jeremy’s Hunt’s famous red briefcase.

Despite the change is national insurance and pledges to increase the VAT exemption, there was little else for businesses to cheer, leaders agreed.

Delegates at the event, sponsored by MHA Moore & Smalley, said the failure to announce policies relating to climate change, business rates, tax-free shopping, infrastructure in the county and skills and employment made the budget more political, rather than benefit the business community.

A specialist panel from the Lancashire business community included Steve Haywood from MHA, Jeff House from Baxi, David Armstrong from Bako, Kate Shane from Merlin Entertainments and Dawn Cheetham from CKS Catering.

There was also reaction from the British Chambers of Commerce policy manager, Jonny Haseldine.

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said:  “After the Autumn Statement, this Budget was expected to offer less support for businesses, with the exception of changes to National Insurance that will help boost momentum. However, no major announcements were made to significantly improve conditions for businesses.

“With the General Election approaching, this Budget may be the final fiscal event before voters head to the polls. While business confidence is on the rise, the months ahead will still present challenges for many companies. It is crucial that the economy remains a top priority in the upcoming campaign.

“The extension of the Recovery Loan Scheme, now known as the Growth Guarantee Scheme, is positive news for businesses looking to recover from recent economic challenges and plan for future growth. This scheme will provide essential financial support to help businesses get back on track.

“It is disappointing that the Chancellor did not mention a new internationally competitive tax-free shopping scheme. We will review the evidence presented by the OBR and continue to advocate for the implementation of such a scheme.”


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