By Jonathan Davies

Fifty days ahead of the general election, the Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his sixth and final Budget of this government.

You can see a summary of the major talking points here.

Unsurprisingly, there has been huge reaction from the big business organisations and we've brought together the best of it.

Federation of Small Businesses

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Our members will be encouraged by many of today’s announcements. The review into business rates is long overdue. When complete, it must deliver tangible benefits to businesses and not end up as just another report that sits on the shelf. His commitment to raise the Annual Investment Allowance to an appropriate level will provide the certainty needed for businesses to plan and invest - something badly needed if the UK is to raise its productivity.

“We are especially pleased that the idea for a single digital tax account is being taken forward. This is something we have long advocated — featuring prominently in our 2015 Business Manifesto. Implemented properly, this should reduce the time businesses take to complete their tax returns, and offers opportunities to deliver targeted support. The abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions for the self employed is also a welcome step."

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “This Budget has some encouraging measures to help businesses create jobs for the benefit of all.

"With business investment a crucial driver of growth, the Chancellor has signalled his intention to continue the Annual Investment Allowance. We want it to be made permanent in the Autumn Statement at £250,000 - this will fire the UK's economic kiln by spurring smaller firms to invest in plant and machinery.

“The oil and gas industry, which supports 450,000 UK jobs and is a major contributor to GDP, has been given a much-needed boost with the reduction to the supplementary charge and other incentives. This will help address concerns over job losses and investment freezes, but pressures remain due to low oil prices."

Institute of Directors

The Institute of Directors said: “This was a solid and responsible budget. Few Chancellors would be able to resist the temptation to binge on a £22bn windfall from the sale of bank shares this close to an election. By using it to pay down our national debt George Osborne has shown commendable discipline.

“Whilst some may have expected more rabbits from the hat, today’s employment figures and the revised OBR growth forecasts prove there’s definitely something of the Duracell bunny to Britain’s economic recovery. This is a testament to this Government’s support for enterprise but, more importantly, it is evidence of the tenacity and resilience of UK businesses.

“However, mid-sized businesses in particular will be disappointed not to see further action on the burden of employers’ National Insurance Contributions. Furthermore, the uncertainty that now clings to the Annual Investment Allowance ought to have been dealt with by confirming that the existing allowance of £500,000 will not be reduced.”


Mark Beatson, chief economist for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: “The Government is right to cheer the rise in employment, but there are still some big questions that they have failed to answer on productivity. It’s astonishing that productivity wasn’t referenced even once in the Chancellor’s speech, and yet this is the biggest challenge that the economy and businesses face now.

"We need to understand how we can make more of our people, our assets and our infrastructure in order to boost business performance. We saw announcements in the Budget designed to encourage investment, but we saw little which will make a real difference to how UK employers develop workforce skills or use existing workforce skills effectively."

Forum of Private Business

Phil Orford MBE, Chief Executive at the Forum of Private Business, said: “Our members were looking for fairness and stability in the Budget. Fairness when it comes to the business tax burden and stability in a year of political uncertainty to allow small employers to invest and employ with relative certainty. As we look now beyond the Budget, we call on the next government to put in place measures to put small business interests at the heart of party manifestos.

“Tax concessions and changes formed a key part of our members’ budget asks. We welcome the Chancellor’s decision to use taxation as a way to influence better business practice in the UK, to ensure that all businesses pay their fair dues and that the system doesn’t unfairly target many of the small to medium-sized firms that form the backbone of the UK economy.

"It is good to see that George Osborne has taken on board our suggestions [on business rates] of short-term measures to reduce the pain of excessive property taxation ahead of the comprehensive root and branch review, with continued a continued cap of 2%, a £1,500 discount for retail properties and an extension of Small Business Rates Relief. However the devil will definitely be in the detail and whether the review will lead to concrete measures to tackle an issue that many small firms feel has needed addressing for some time.”