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Business experts welcome ‘make or break’ budget

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Several business groups have responded positively to yesterday’s budget, with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) saying it will “put wind in the sails” of British investment.

Exporting and manufacturing were the areas of industry to receive the most support from the chancellor. Exporters will receive £3 billion in direct lending to help British companies compete effectively for contracts and sell good overseas. Manufacturers received a £7 billion package to help reduce their energy costs by up to £50,000 per year.

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said: “This was a budget that offers some help to all levels of business, with perhaps a slight focus on the mid-size energy intensive and manufacturing businesses rather than the very small ones. However, it does help to tackle the cost of energy and makes good on the commitment trailed before the budget to support those that look to invest, either in the UK or abroad."

Pensions reform was the other big talking point in the budget. The chancellor announced that employees would have more freedom to manage their own finances, with 55% taxes for drawing money early from pension pots removed. Now withdrawals will only be taxed at standard income tax rates.

Alan Higham, head of retirement insight at Fidelity and chairman of Annuity Direct, said: "These changes represent a brave new world for retirement planning and it is right that people should be trusted to make decisions on how to spend their own money. The changes will effectively remove the regulatory bias that exists at the moment, which means too many people buy annuities at the wrong time and for pretty poor value.”

George Osborne also announced 100,000 new apprenticeship schemes in his speech.  David Rudick, VP international markets at jobsite Indeed.com, welcomed the news but called for more work to be done to make people in school aware of their options.

He said: “This huge boost to apprenticeships must be supported by the careers advice that is delivered in schools. Schools and employers must work more closely together to demystify the job search process, and ensure that careers advisers are better equipped to offer the appropriate training and careers advice schemes.

"Providing the appropriate direction to school leavers will help the next generation decide what career is right for them, not mistaking the first available job for the right job.”