BUSINESS leaders in Yorkshire gave a lukewarm response to the Chancellor’s Budget measures – and claimed that his forecasts for UK economic recovery were overly optimistic.
Steven Leigh, policy spokesman for the Lockwood-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “There is nothing for the ordinary man in the street to smile about.
“For all the many billions of pounds of spending proposed by the Chancellor, the only people who will create real jobs and real wealth are the private sector.”
Mr Leigh said: “Only a few months ago in the pre-Budget Report, the Chancellor made a lot of projections and forecasts which have proved hopelessly wrong. I don’t feel any confidence that his Budget forecasts are any better. His forecasts for the recovery to start this year and for 3.5% growth next year are massively optimistic.”
Mr Leigh said Mr Darling had missed the opportunity to carry out a few simple measures, such as freezing or reducing National Insurance contributions, which would have put money into people’s pockets.
Alan Hall, Yorkshire director for manufacturing organisation EEF, said: “Given the most difficult economic conditions for a generation, the Chancellor has gone some way towards alleviating the short term pressures facing companies.
“Measures on investment, trade credit, low carbon technologies and car scrappage are helpful, although he should have gone further to make a real difference.
“However, the growth forecasts look overly optimistic and there is a serious danger that business will pay the price in higher tax if growth falls short.
“Manufacturers will also be disappointed that the Chancellor has hit them with the double whammy of failing to provide support for short-time working while increasing the costs of redundancy.”
Andrew Palmer, Yorkshire regional director for the CBI, said the Budget had failed to set out a “credible and rigorous path” for restoring the public finances to health.
He added: “The Chancellor’s economic forecasts for next year and beyond look optimistic. By pushing out the horizon for balancing the books as far as 2018 the Government is running too much of a risk.
“On the fringes of this Budget, there are some worthwhile measures, including support for businesses struggling to access trade credit insurance and for carmakers through a time-limited scrappage scheme. The changes on investment allowances and the ability for firms to carry forward losses are also welcome.
“But a lot will depend on how far the Government can reduce public expenditure growth through public service reform and cultural change.”