George Osborne has unveiled the 2015 budget for the UK. And brands and businesses have leapt at the chance to share their views on the chancellor's proposals for their respective industries.
Alcohol industry giants weighed in on the UK government’s proposal to ease up on the drinks industry by reducing the duty on beer by 1p, freezing wine at its current rate and dropping Scotch whisky, spirits and cider by two per cent.
Denis O’Flynn, managing director of Pernod Ricard UK, said: “We are delighted that the government has confirmed a 2 per cent cut in duty for spirits. This small drop in duty is an important contribution in supporting jobs, growth and investment in the UK spirits industry.
“While it is disappointing that the UK’s 30 million wine consumers did not receive a duty cut as well, we are pleased that the chancellor has chosen to freeze wine duty at its current rate. This is certainly an improvement and a good first step.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Cowan, managing director of Diageo Great Britain, said: “Thousands of people across the nation will this evening raise a happy toast to the chancellor. The alcohol industry generates billions for the economy and flies the flag for the UK abroad.
“This cut will mean that a 400 year historic industry like Scotch whisky will remain a crucial, and vibrant, part of the British economy for many more years to come.”
Osborne also extended his support of UK tech research including the internet of things and automated vehicles in his budget.
David Halstead, head of technology at Deloitte, praised Osborne’s £11.2m to the UK tech industry: “Technology clusters are important to the success of the UK digital economy and this support for tech incubators in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield will assist innovation and growth for years to come.
“All three of these cities are increasingly dynamic start-up zones, with innovative universities and employees. It builds on the government’s existing support through programmes such as the Catapults network.”
Ami Shpiro, founder of business incubator programme Innovation Warehouse, was critical of the announcement: “The government is right to try and encourage the creation of tech and enterprise zones across the country, but what we really need is more support for small businesses, more investment in education and skills, and an immigration policy that allows us to pick the best and brightest.
“High speed broadband will prove vital to improving connectivity and driving productivity, which has increasingly been a problem in Britain. It is essential we see more tech clusters emerge outside of London and the South East, just as investment in regional cities begins to grow.”
On the UK government's planned £100m investment into driverless cars, Steve Towe, chief commercial officer and UK managing director of Masternaut, said: "Driverless car technology is a very exciting development for the automotive industry and represents a major step change for UK roads, one of the biggest changes in history. Previously a science fiction dream, driverless cars are now very real and are being tested on our roads, and we’re intrigued to see what the future holds for the technology.”
The budget also saw the creative industries receive a little boost. Adam Minns, executive director of the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), welcomed a tax break for children's TV productions: "A properly constructed UK tax credit will help incentivise future investment in UK children's content. Alongside HM Treasury, we would also like to recognise the efforts that the DCMS has gone to, to help ensure this happens."
On Osborne announcing he is to clamp down on banks by increasing the levy rate to 0.21 per cent and ceasing the deduction of mis-sold PPI insurance compensation from corporation tax, Anthony Browne, chief executive of the British Bankers Association, said: "Banks in the UK already pay more than £40bn in taxes each year, helping to fund schools and hospitals across the country.
"The bank levy imposes a significant cost on banking businesses in the UK, which is making many banks move work and jobs to other parts of the world, and is deterring international banks from investing in the UK.
"This major increase in the bank levy is likely to damage the competitiveness of the UK economy and also further disadvantage UK headquartered banks by increasing tax on their overseas activities, while their competitors in those markets do not pay this tax at all."
John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), praised Osborne’s measures: "Stability and consistency are what businesses need to grow and prosper. This budget sets the tone, providing a clear plan for fiscal health and growth.
"This budget has some encouraging measures to help businesses create jobs for the benefit of all."
And finally, John Mathers, chief executive of the Design Council, said: “In order to stay competitive, UK businesses must necessarily improve their supply chains. Innovation is the most important driver of long-term prosperity. Our economy must be innovative in order to grow and to make the UK’s economy competitive globally.
“Design helps turn innovative ideas into profitable offerings that meeting consumer needs and compete on a world stage. Designers and design skills contribute to the wider economy, including high value manufacturing sectors such as automotive and aerospace, providing value and differentiating our products.”