Business joy as Chancellor George Osborne scraps fuel duty hike
planned fuel hike has been ditched
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
Scrapping the planned 3p-a-litre fuel duty rise was hailed as a
welcome Christmas present in the Chancellor's fiscally-neutral
George Osborne used his speech today to announce he is scrapping
next month's hike - to the delight of businesses and families.
Peter Carroll, the Folkestone-based founder of Fair Fuel UK,
welcomed the move.
Mr Carroll, pictured left, said: "It's great
news for every family worried about the cost of petrol and
"It's great news for business and for the overall economy
because it takes that pressure away of having to pay an extra 3p a
"It's been great that so many people from across Kent,
where I started the campaign, have been right behind us."
Mr Osborne's 46-minute speech revealed his growth and
deficit-reduction targets would be missed and more austerity was on
He said the deficit had come down by a quarter, borrowing
had reduced and 1.2m new jobs had been created in the private
"It's a hard road but we are making progress," he told cheering
Tories and jeering Labour MPs in the House of Commons.
He announced £5billion would be injected into
infrastructure, schools and the controversial HS2 railway from
London to the north. But there was no mention of the third Thames
Crossing wanted by Kent County Council.
The Freight Transport Association in Tunbridge Wells welcomed
the fuel decision - but, like Oliver Twist, wanted more.
It said he should have gone further and abandoned all planned
rises before the next election and move to cut fuel duty by 3p a
FTA has been at the heart of the Fair Fuel UK campaign to have
the increase scrapped and pledged to continue lobbying for a
James Hookham, FTA's managing director policy and
communications, said: "This early Christmas present from the
Chancellor is a good start, but we will not let this issue
go. Spiralling fuel costs have a devastating impact on haulage
businesses, their customers and ultimately everyone through the
price of goods on the shelves, and the campaign for a fairer deal
The Chancellor, pictured left, upset
benefit claimants by restricting increases to 1% over the next
Michael Fallon, business minister and Sevenoaks MP, defended the
below-inflation increase for those who have seen their
benefits rise by almost twice the rise in average earnings.
"We've got to be fair to those who are getting up early in the
morning, not claiming benefits and going to work," he said.
Andy Golding, chief executive of Kent Reliance, welcomed
the small rise in the ISA tax-free threshold to £11,520 - and
Junior Isa to £3,720 - and help for borrowers by increasing the
timescale for qualifying for support for mortgage interest
He said: "Clearly there are some borrowers in difficulty at the
moment and the fact that they're getting help with their interest
payment is good."
But generally there was not a lot in it, he said. "It's going to
be fairly fiscally neutral at the moment because there just
isn’t the money to do anything else."
Paul Wookey, chief executive of Locate in Kent, said a cut in
Corporation Tax to 21% from April 2014 would make the county more
attractive to overseas investment.
"Coupled with the announcement of increased funding for UK Trade
and Investment (UKTI), this can only be good news for Kent. We have
worked hard to build a strong relationship with UKTI, which is
generating solid new leads for the county.
"With more funding and added incentives for companies to move
here, it will make our case for converting those leads into real
jobs even more compelling."
Simon Levey, private client partner with Cripps Harries Hall
in Tunbridge Wells, welcomed the planned increase in
Inheritance tax threshold by £4,000 to £329,000.
"It will have the effect of reducing IHT in respect of deaths
after 5 April 2013 by £1,600. The threshold has been unchanged
the threshold had been index linked for some years, but that was
abolished by Alistair Darling’s budget, so the change in threshold
also re-establishes the principle that it should be adjusted to
reflect capital values eroded by inflation.
"However, the amount of the increase means that the relative
value of the threshold still remains lower after adjusting for
inflation than it was in 2009."
The Chancellor gave more funding and decision-making powers to
local enterprise partnerships, including the South East LEP
Paul Gresham, senior partner of KPMG in the south east, said:
"At last we are seeing some real promises coming from the
Government in relation to local empowerment.
"Many criticisms laid at the door of the Local Enterprise
Partnerships have been to do with a lack of funding, but as the
Chancellor announced in his speech, spending aligned to transport,
housing and skills, is set to fall within their remit."
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