Budget good for business, workers and savers

Anthony Lewis says Chancellor George Osborne's fifth Budget, is good for business, those in work and savers. He agreed with the Chancellor that the package would allow the UK to "out-compete, out-smart and out-do the rest of the world".

He said "It was a very interesting Budget, at times intricate, and we have a lot of creative elements. I think Mr Osborne was able to look at the big picture while also drilling down behind the scenes to look at the specific concerns which had been voiced to him by interested groups."

Mr Lewis picked out three key areas which he believes will benefit businesses in the region, particularly those involved in exporting, construction and manufacturing.

He said: "I think the measures which will provide most help for firms in these sectors are the doubling of the amount of lending available for export finance to £3 billion, the £7 billion package to cut energy bills for all businesses and the extension of the government's successful Help-to-Buy scheme to 2020, which will help towards the goal of building 200,000 new homes.

"Apart from these steps, it was also good to see Mr Osborne announcing grants to support 100,000 new apprenticeships. Another boost for all businesses is the extension and increase in the annual investment allowance of up to £500,000 of investment made in assets until the end of 2015.

"He also unveiled a number of measures which will help those who are in work, and I think the most important of these was the further increase in the personal tax allowance. This is already due to go up to £10,000 from this April but it was very encouraging to hear him say in his speech that this will be increased again to £10,500 in April, 2015. Another helpful announcement on taxation is the increase in the higher rate threshold from £41,450 to £41,865 from next month."

Mr Lewis also welcomed the various measures announced by the Chancellor to help savers. He explained: "Mr Osborne is making some far reaching reforms on the pensions front and I believe the announcements that are most welcome are the removal of all requirements on the taking of annuities, making it much more flexible for those with private pensions. Also significant is the removal of the 55 per cent withdrawal tax on pensions and replacing it with normal marginal rates of tax.

"There will also be some big changes on ISAs such as people being able to merge cash and stocks and shares ISAs into one new ISA and increasing the savings limit to £15,000 from July 1. This move will give savers much more flexibility. Also on the savings front, I was very glad to see that the Chancellor announced a new Pensioner's Bond for people aged over 65. Taken together, the measures in the Budget are definitely good for anyone who is a maker, a doer or a saver, as Mr Osborne said in his speech."