Budget 'better for Wiltshire pubs, air ambulance, tourism, pensioners, savers and farmers'

Wiltshire Times: The Chancellor, George Osborne, in Downing Street today The Chancellor, George Osborne, in Downing Street today

Paul Sullivan, sales and marketing director of Devizes brewers Wadworth, said the decision to cut beer duty by Chancellor George Osborne is a lifeline for pubs.

“We are delighted," he said. "Last year the Chancellor was vindicated in leaving duty and alcohol alone in his budget and the same is true for the beer duty cut.

“This decision will allow future investment in the pub industry and means that pubs can continue to be vibrant businesses.”

David Philpott, chief executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust, welcomed the Chancellor’s waiving of VAT on fuel for air ambulances in the Budget today.

The charity’s partnership with Wiltshire Police for the joint helicopter comes to an end in January after which the charity will have its own air ambulance and will have to raise about £2.5 million a year.

Mr Philpott said: “My understanding is that VAT on fuel for air ambulances is five per cent and, based on what other air ambulances pay for fuel, we think we might save between £10,000 and £15,000 a year.

"In terms of operating costs of an air ambulance that is a couple of days worth.”

David Andrews, chief executive of VisitWiltshire, the county’s tourism body, said: "We’re delighted that Air Passenger Duty is being reformed for long-haul destinations. Britain’s aviation taxes are one of the highest in the world, and this is a good first step in changing this.

"Reducing the cost of APD for key international markets such as China, India, Australia and New Zealand is great news in supporting VisitWiltshire’s efforts to attract more international visitors.

"After having hosted a group of 30 Chinese tour operators on a two-day visit to Wiltshire last weekend, a reduction in the cost of visiting Britain of up to £108 per Chinese visitor, or up to £432 for a family of four, is very good news.

"I am also pleased to hear that the Government will contribute £1 million towards next year’s commemoration events for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

"VisitWiltshire are already working with Salisbury and Trowbridge on making sure Wiltshire’s part of the national Magna Carta Campaign, so hope that some of this budget goes towards Wiltshire events and the national campaign we’re working on to promote Magna Carta internationally."

Stephen Depla, the head of Brewin Dolphin’s office in Marlborough, welcomed George Osborne's changes to the pension system and increased tax-free ISA allowances.

He said: “Like a phoenix from the flames, Osborne’s policy sees the British pension rise from its deathbed, freed from fears over stealth taxes and over complication. 

"This is a total game changer, and will result in the almost immediate death of the annuity – for which we have long called for.

"It is a huge change in the flexibility of the pension system, with lower taxes and higher lump sums.

"We welcome the fact that the Government is willing to trust people with their own finances and await clarification on how the vast amount of necessary advice will be delivered. 

“The Chancellor has removed the 'nanny knows best aspect' of the ISA – allowing a far broader range of products, and the ability to switch from shares to cash and back again.

"With a massive increase in the amount that can be sheltered in an ISA wrapper, as well as the inclusion of peer to peer lending and shorter dated retail bonds, the ISA is now a far sharper tool in the tax planning toolkit.”

The National Farmers' Union says the Chancellor’s announcement to double the rate of the Annual Investment Allowance is welcome for agriculture but it would have been better if he had made it a permanent fixture.

Mr Osborne doubled the allowance to £500,000 and extended it until 2016 but the NFU says permanence would have helped the industry better plan for the future.

“Despite the reasonably good news on the investment allowance for plant and machinery, any incentives for capital infrastructure investment were sadly lacking in today’s budget," said NFU president Meurig Raymond.

"This is all the more frustrating given that few farming businesses are in a situation to benefit from the continued reductions in corporation tax.

"While the Chancellor talks about adding resilience and balance to the economy, farmers need to invest in capital items, and not just plant and machinery

“The NFU applauds the Government’s intention, this autumn, to publish a long-term plan to protect the country from future flooding. Indeed, we highlighted the need for a root and branch review of the Government’s flood management policy in the NFU Flooding Manifesto.

"However, it is not yet clear whether the announcement of £140m of funding to repair and restore flood defences includes or is in addition to the £130m announced in February.

“Also, with a renewed interest in careers in the agri-business sector, the industry will welcome the extension to apprenticeship grants. The challenge for farming will be to get its fair share from the extra £85m that the Chancellor has announced.

“The UK drinks industry will be pleased with various measures including freezing duty on Scotch whisky and cider, in which he singled out weather-affected cider makers in the West Country.”

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