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[ 19-03-2014 ]

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Budget Statement, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:


“In contrast to last year, this Budget is set against a background of a general uprating of economic forecasts.  Many businesses sit at the start of an upward trajectory in prospects but they need support from the Government through getting the fiscal and regulatory environment right in order to help them meet their objectives.  It is clear from the tone of this year’s Budget that the Government understands many of the needs of business at the present time.  Some of the measures announced will go far to address the key necessity of supporting business investment but there are other areas where too little is still being done.  With the independence referendum just six months away, Scottish businesses are paying close attention to this Budget and its potential implications for the future.”


Mrs Cameron went on to comment on specific aspects of the Budget:


On Business Investment:


“One of the priorities for the Scottish economy is to increase levels of business investment and the moves announced to raise the rate of R&D tax credits for loss making small businesses and to extend and increase the annual investment allowance to £500k per year are both very welcome policies which target a key need for businesses.”


On Export Finance:


“We welcome the doubling of export finance lending to £3 billion and the reduction in interest rates by a third.  This will make a real difference to many businesses looking to expand and internationalise.  From a Scottish perspective, we would like this to be supported by a stronger partnership between the UK Government and businesses in Scotland, aimed at developing long term business-to-business links internationally.”


On Energy Costs:


“We welcome the decision to extend the compensation for energy intensive industries and the creation of new support for higher costs resulting from the renewable obligation.  Energy costs are a real burden on many businesses and, according to the Chancellor, around a third of the businesses who could benefit from these actions are based in Scotland.  This is very welcome support at this time and we will continue to work with Government and others to ensure that businesses’ energy concerns are addressed.”


On Air Passenger Duty and aviation:


“It is good news that the Government has at last recognised the impact that the highest taxes on air travel in the world are having on Scottish businesses’ ability to trade and attract investment and we welcome the decision to reduce Air Passenger Duty in the highest bands to a lower level.  However even this move will still leave the UK with the highest such taxes in Europe and more needs to be done to tackle the burden of these taxes, particularly on Scotland’s airports.  It is, however, good news that the Government is to extend scope of the Regional Air Connectivity Fund to include start up aid for new routes from regional airports, though at £20 million per year, funding may be keenly sought after.”


On Fuel Duty:


“Once again we welcome the abandonment of September’s fuel duty increase, but with annual increases now routinely cancelled, is it not time to introduce a sensible long term plan to relieve the burden of fuel taxes?”


On Alcohol Duty,


“SCC welcomes the Chancellor’s decision to freeze the rate of duty on whisky and to abandon the Alcohol Duty escalator.  However, the Government found the resources to reduce tax on beer and it is slightly disappointing that Scotland’s national spirit has not benefitted from similar treatment.”