Business

Budget 2017: Views on Philip Hammond's first Budget

The chancellor said he wanted to build an economy that "works for everyone".

He promised help for small businesses hit by the change in business rates, including a discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000.

Mr Hammond also pledged extra money for adult social care in England, and announced a rise in national insurance contributions for the self-employed.

So, how are people from around the UK reacting to his speech?

Essex: More clarity on business rates

Mike Wells runs Uptomen Menswear and Accessories, at Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex.

He feels that some retailers are still going to lose out from the change in business rates in England, despite the promise of a cap on rises for those set to lose existing relief.

"I'm sure he's got reasons for particularly helping out the good old British pub but it's not really helped to tackle the retailers out there, it's not really done anything for us," said Mr Wells.

The government has already committed itself to a transitional relief scheme as the changes to rates come in, and in his speech the chancellor also announced a £300m discretionary fund to be administered by local authorities. But Mr Wells said he would like more clarity.

"The really small guys with a really small rateable value are doing OK out of this rates re-jig, but there are people [with] not quite as small rateable values who are really being kicked by it, and we need some sort of help.

"Hopefully this transitional relief that they haven't detailed will help, but again we still just don't know yet, which is not really helpful," he said.

Hull: 'Tactics but no strategy'

In his speech, Mr Hammond said £90m would go to the Northern Powerhouse for transport improvements.

It will come as welcome news to many in the region. However, Thomas Martin, joint managing director of Hull-based safety products distribution company, Arco, said he had wanted the chancellor to go further.

"It's a start but it's only one mention. A number of companies in Hull are working really hard, we're making our own luck. In Arco shareholders have invested £55m over the next three years [but] we can't do it on our own.

"I really hoped to hear more about transport infrastructure, getting rid of some bottlenecks and evidence that the chancellor was taking the Northern Powerhouse as seriously as he should do."

Mr Martin, whose family have run the company for four generations, said that he wanted the chancellor to have been more specific about the government's industrial strategy.

"There's about seven times as much money being spent in the South as there is in the North. I understand that for historical reasons, but for a chancellor trying to balance the books and get value for money, I think a pound spent in the North can go a whole lot further.

"I think he's trying, I think he could have been a little bit more direct with a more overt industrial strategy. I heard some tactics, I didn't hear an overall vision for UK Plc."

Uckfield, East Sussex: Education and social care

Seventeen-year-old Dan Manvell is at college studying for his A-levels. He recently led a successful campaign to reverse cuts to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, proposed by East Sussex County Council.

Pauline Jackson is a trustee of Age UK in East Sussex and also sits on the Sussex Elders' Commission which represents the views of older people on policing and crime.

The BBC got them together to watch the Budget.

Dan was enthusiastic about the chancellor's proposal to introduce a new set of exams focusing on technical education.

"I really like the changes that are proposed for T-levels... I think that's a really good step. If they're successful with the £500m they've been allocated, I think they'll bring much greater parity between vocational subjects and academic subjects.

He was, however, disappointed that the age range for the National Living Wage hadn't been extended to include younger people.

"I wasn't expecting it, but I would have liked it if the chancellor had introduced the same minimum wage for 18-24 year-olds as 25-plus year-olds, because there's no reason for this discrimination of age."

Pauline approved of the promised increase to funding for adult social care in England: "He did cover the important parts that I hoped he would on social care", she said, "although when he announced £2bn in three years, I was hoping that was going to be in one year."

And Pauline shared Dan's view of the introduction of T-Levels.

"It's important for young people, this new T-Level, to ensure that technical qualifications are given the same level as university qualifications and that they're both felt to be as good, because we need technical people as well as academic people, because our future, the older people's future, is in the younger people's hands."

Manchester: 'Stifling innovative businesses'

Image copyright Lawrence Jones

Lawrence Jones, chief executive of Manchester-based business-to-business hosting company UKFast, says that the chancellor was wrong to say that online businesses were able to escape paying business rates.

"I'd take exception to Hammond pointing to digital businesses as somehow being exempt from business rates.

"Online companies still need offices, warehouses and data centres. In reality this is another move from Westminster that stifles growth for innovative businesses across the whole economy."

Mr Jones said that the move to reduce taxes for the self-employed would reduce the incentive for risk-takers.

"It's these small entrepreneurs that drive the economy and often become the ones who build the SMEs and fast-growing start-ups we all want to see thriving."

He added: "It's grossly unfair to claim they're levelling out the tax to balance with employees, when employees get so many extra rights like sick pay, holiday, pensions and maternity pay. How much is that worth? I'd be thinking 'why take the risk?'"

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