Spring Budget will be hard felt in the Borders

Many farmers and agricultural workers in the region are self employed.
Many farmers and agricultural workers in the region are self employed.

The Scottish Borders has a higher than average number of self employed residents meaning the area will be one of the hardest hit by the Chancellor’s spring Budget.

Across the region’s 18 towns and villages included in recent Federation of Small Business data, all exceeded the Scottish average of 6.5% of the working population being self employed, and all these people are now facing a rise in their National Insurance payments. Self employment levels in the region’s settlements range from 14.1% to 7.1%.

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “The Chancellor’s £1 billion tax hike on those that work for themselves is the wrong move at the wrong time. It puts at risk the success of small town Scotland.

“It is obvious that many successful local communities have high numbers of people who work for themselves. But, many of the self-employed are people on relatively modest incomes – without the benefit of things like paid holidays and sick leave.

“We’re looking for everyone who cares about those that work for themselves in Scotland to encourage the Chancellor to rethink this wrongheaded move.”

“Increasing the tax burden on plumbers, cleaners and musicians, while decreasing corporation tax isn’t the right move.”

NFU Scotland’s parliamentary officer Clare Slipper added: “For an industry like agriculture, where many farmers and agricultural workers are self-employed, the hike in National Insurance contributions will hit incomes.

“Given the importance of haulage to the food and farming sectors, it was welcome that Vehicle Excise Duty will be frozen for hauliers and HGV users for another year.

“Similarly, fears of additional burdens on those who use diesel vehicles do not appear to have materialised – an important concession given the importance of 4wd workhorses to those who live and work remotely.”

Borders Conservative MSP John Lamont put a positive spin on the budget announced by his Westminster counterparts.

He said: “This budget delivers yet another boost to the Scottish Government, who now have a further £350m to spend.

“Given his budget had already increased compared to last year, the Finance Secretary must be thinking Christmas has come early. There is surely little excuse now to slash council budgets and make Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom.

“What this budget really shows is the importance of remaining part of the UK to Scotland’s finances.

“With even more money to spend on local services, it’s high time the SNP stopped threatening another independence referendum and started thinking about how to improve local schools, hospitals and transport.”