Opinion: Budget Response from Swindon & Wiltshire businesses

By Anita Jaynes on 3 March, 2021

Business owners and directors from across Swindon and Wiltshire give us their response to today’s Budget announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Martin Gurney, Haines Watts Swindon

Martin Gurney, tax partner at Haines Watts Swindon said, “In my opinion, this is an entirely reasonable and well-reasoned approach, we should not tax the economy without first trying to stimulate a return to higher economic activity, and the Chancellor gives himself the opportunity to amend these future provisions, should circumstances change, without being seen to have worsened the position with tax increases.

“I still believe there will be other tax changes announced in due course as the economy stabilises, but in the interim this appears to be a sensible plan to both support the economy and improve the chances that economic conditions will move favourably.”

Tom Brennan, TED Mortgages

Tom Brennan, co-director of Swindon-based TED Mortgages

Tom said the support for the property market was a ‘sensible approach’ allowing people to still take advantage of a reduction to what is one of the biggest upfront costs of moving home.

He particularly welcomed the re-introduction of the government backed 5% deposit mortgages with confirmation from some of the main banks that they are ready to offer these products within weeks.

“This is a much-needed inclusion for an enormous chunk of society that have struggled to get on the housing ladder due to the burden of saving for a large deposit.”

 Tom has a warning though, “The key theme is that we MUST remember debt needs to be repaid and thus we, as a society, are going to have to pay for it eventually. Income Tax is to be frozen until 2026 and the government have stated earnings will not drop because of this. They have also said people will not be out of pocket which is not correct. 

“If the rate of inflation increases then the cost of living will increase, so although incomes remain the same, day to day bills will rise meaning households will be more out of pocket eventually.” 

Diana Campbell, Zoek

Diana Campbell, Managing Director of global jobs search site Zoek said, “I cannot help question why there’s a need to increase Universal Credit until September, as last week alone there were over 250,000 jobs on Zoek – showing that there are jobs available. 

“People are to be encouraged to get back into work, as the economy and businesses boom when there is less unemployment. 

“With furlough, it needs to be understood it’s there to help support businesses to get back on their feet and reopen, as trade might not be at the same level as pre-Covid for some, therefore some of their employees may need to stay on furlough for longer. 

“I’m a big fan of the ‘Help to Grow’ scheme helping SMEs with their management and digital skills. It can help small businesses innovate and become more competitive, allowing them to grow, which again, could mean more jobs being created. This support could also inspire more start-ups!”

Fiona Scott, Scott Media

Fiona Scott of Scott Media is the South West ambassador for Forgotten Ltd, a campaign group for business owners (often sole traders) who operate through a limited company and are paid in dividends. 

“Once again directors of limited companies have been left out in the cold in this Budget in spite of lobbying by many MPs, support from the Treasury Select Committee and by most of the Metro Mayors across the UK. 

“While some of us who have premises have got a small grant to pay some business bills, or have been able to furlough staff, we have not been able to pay our own personal bills. Furloughing ourselves means we cannot work on our businesses at all which would spell disaster anyway. 

“We can see no light at the end of the tunnel. Particularly badly hit have been events companies, hair stylists, beauticians, travel agencies and many more. We’re devastated and we are the local independent business owners in every town and city up and down the land.”