Budget 2010: What Business Leaders Think

Last Updated Mar 25, 2010 6:42 AM EDT

    What do business leaders make of the 2010 Budget -- and is it a vote winner? We asked four:
  • The employment screening entrepreneur This budget was purely a political statement, short on economic content but spot on for political content. Of course, it would be hard for the Chancellor to avoid criticism -- but this was a Budget that avoided big surprises while being unexpectedly good for many businesses.
    The Robin Hood scenario for first-time buyers will please most voters as it appeals to their sense of fairness. Needless to say, London voters are unlikely to benefit as much as elsewhere.
    This budget was particularly good to SMEs. I know small business owners who struggled to pay taxes on time, so extending the time to pay and encouraging investment in plant and machinery, and doubling the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) limit to £100,000 and Entrepreneur's Relief is a potential vote winner.
    I think that the gap between the 10 percent tax rate on business sales and the 50 percent income tax rate will eventually have to close, so bottom line is that if you are a business owner looking for an exit, now might be a good time to do something about it. Alexandra Kelly, director, Powerchex
  • The value retailer It was a budget with few surprises -- definitely an election budget in the doubling of the stamp duty holiday. That will be paid for by upping the rate on properties over £1m, so this move will appeal to more voters. There was cut in business rates and more pressure to lend to business -- it will be interesting to see how real that becomes.
    Overall, it's a neutral budget for consumers, too, with no VAT rises. There are no clear winners, but there was definitely more support for business than was expected. It's a battery of small changes in a carefully developed light budget.
    One of the more interesting questions is where do we stand in terms of economic growth in 2011 and 2012? The Chancellor's predictions that growth will accelerate in those years is brave. Leo McKee, chief executive, BrightHouse
  • The marketing business director It's difficult to know how seriously to take a pre-election budget, but my comments are mixed -- on the plus side, the cut in business rates is definitely welcome for SMEs.
    But when it comes to university graduates, we would have liked the emphasis turned back to quality rather than quantity.
    We would have preferred a reduction in corporation tax, rather than the doubling of the annual investment allowance.
    A reduction in employer National Insurance contributions would also have been welcome.
    UK Finance For Growth looks like another government quango-- I'd probably need more details to judge whether it would work. Richard Walbach, director, Clearconcepts
  • The advanced manufacturer With our eye on increasing exports it was disappointing that there was nothing to either directly support overseas trade, or help UK manufacturing. It's surprising, considering the growing trade deficit and the widely reported slow recovery in our sector.
    The £2.5bn 'one-off growth package' won't directly help an established business like ours, but it's sure to help new businesses on the first rung of the ladder. This can only be good for the UK economy for the longer term.
    I'm also encouraged that the government is starting to be more influential with the nationalised high street banks, and the £94bn of new business loans will help business innovate and expand. That said, much more still needs to be done to return to the levels of lending that businesses really need.
    As for the wider economy, tax receipts may've reduced government borrowing this year, but its borrowing figures over the next few years remain eye-watering. Paul Bennett, managing director, Fascia Graphics