Fuel duty and income tax were the main areas of last week’s budget that will impact most on life here in Berwickshire, although whether prices at the region’s petrol stations ease at all remains to be seen.
Borders MP, and Government Minister Michael Moore welcomed the fuel duty and income tax cuts which he said will put hundreds of pounds a year back in the pockets of lower and middle income families in the area.
Speaking after the Budget statement, Borders MP, Michael Moore, said: “Many of my constituents have contacted me regarding the rising cost of fuel and this announcement by the Chancellor to cut fuel duty, despite these difficult economic times, demonstrates that the Government is committed to helping Scottish households struggling with their fuel bills.
“Borders families and communities rely on affordable prices at the pump, so the Government is right to cut the spiralling cost of petrol by taking a bit more from the fast rising profits of the oil and gas sector.
“Many Borderers will pay less tax or be taken out of income tax altogether next year by rising personal allowances, a flagship Liberal Democrat policy at the last election. This measure, combined with a crackdown on tax avoidance will ensure that lower paid Borderers will benefit while those who should pay tax, do pay tax.
“The Borders and Scotland will also be given a competitive edge in industry and job creation to help our local businesses thrive and provide the jobs local people need. The budget cuts corporation tax, putting us on track to have the lowest rate in the entire G20 by 2014.”
Gordon Henderson, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in the East of Scotland commented; “Help with the spiralling cost of fuel is especially welcome in the rural Borders economy where prices are higher than the national average. The vast majority of businesses in the Borders are small businesses and it is these people who have been hit the hardest by the high fuel prices. The increase in the HMRC tax relief mileage allowance is overdue but is also very welcome”.
FSB’s Scottish policy convenor Andy Willox OBE, added: “Scottish small businesses are looking to Westminster as well as prospective Holyrood administrations for strong plans to grow Scotland’s small business economy.
“The FSB in Scotland welcomes some of the Chancellor’s announcements, looks forward to examining the details but believes more could be done to help small businesses create jobs.
“The spiralling cost of fuel isn’t just a headache for small businesses, it’s harming their ability to plan the growth of their businesses and take on employees.
“It is obvious that the Chancellor has listened to the FSB regarding the cost of fuel, we look forward to seeing the price stabilise at the pump and, hopefully, drop. The key question is whether or not it will stabilise at a level sustainable for Scottish small businesses.”
Speaking about tax relief mileage allowance increase Mr Willox continued: “This is a significant move in the right direction and many of Scotland’s self-employed will feel the benefits.
“62 per cent of members have seen the cost of red tape increase in the last four years; three in 10 say it’s one of the main barriers to business success.
“While some regulation originates north of the border, many of our members will be pleased with the Chancellor’s announcement. While this moratorium is in place, is this not an opportune moment to ensure that all future regulation doesn’t tie our members in knots?
“We look forward to more progress in this area so our members spend more time doing work and less time doing paperwork.”
Berwickshire MSP John Lamont welcomed the measures contained in the Budget saying they will provide relief to families across the Borders.
Mr Lamont said:“Given the dire economic situation created by the last Labour Government, I am pleased that the Chancellor has managed to strike a balance between sorting out the deficit and providing real help to hard working families in areas like the Borders.
“Whilst it was particularly disappointing that the Borders was excluded recently from proposals to reduce fuel duty in other remote parts of Scotland, I am pleased that the Government has scrapped Labour’s planned fuel duty rise which was due to come into effect this week. It will not solve the problem of high fuel prices, but it does protect motorists from the situation getting any worse.
“Increasing the personal tax allowance will allow people to earn more money before they start paying tax on their income. This will put money back into the pockets of hard working Borderers, and will take many out of tax altogether.
“Cuts in tax for businesses will help boost economic growth, creating jobs when they are most needed.
“All in all, this is a Budget which will boost jobs whilst at the same time providing relief to hard working families in the Borders.”