Borrowing to fund infrastructure was welcomed by business leaders in what was described as a solid budget.
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber said: “We are pleased that business calls for action on infrastructure have made an impact. It is now critical for these upgrades to begin without delay, as they are crucial not just to confidence, but also to local and national growth.
“Transport improvements have positive knock-on effects, as they open up supply chains, generate thousands of new contracts for UK businesses, as well as enhance access to labour and new markets.
“While we want to see ‘quick start’ projects delivered, we also need a long-term outlook. For that reason, business wants the government and the National Infrastructure Commission to plan for the delivery of major projects that can help prepare the economy for the future.”
Gary Lovatt, FSB regional chairman for Lancashire and Cumbria said: “We are pleased with the commitment to boost broadband, and the move to devolve road investment to local areas which are better placed to invest funds in their areas of greatest need. Devolving these and other budgets to local areas is something we are keen to see more of.”
“Ensuring rural businesses get business rates relief on a par with urban businesses is a move we have been calling for, so this is very pleasing to see and will directly assist rural economies and the small businesses within them.”
Ms Murphy agreed on rural rates: “For rural businesses and those benefitting from the lower cap on annual increases following this year’s revaluation, the measures announced are welcome. However, British businesses will continue to pay the highest local property taxes in the developed world.
“Addressing this upfront burden is essential if they are to invest more in training, recruitment and growth plans.”
Rob Payne, CEO of Best Western hotels said:“The increase in National Living Wage from April will help make the hospitality industry more attractive, but it also adds to the price pressures that hotel owners are already feeling.”