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Cumbria Chamber reacts to budget announcement

Following today's Budget by the Chancellor, Rob Johnston Chief Executive, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce says:

"This was an interesting Budget and clearly one put together with a view to the forthcoming election.

"The personal taxation changes should have a real impact on what people have available to spend, and their perceived ability to spend, and feed through into a virtuous circle as they spend with businesses - assuming they spend in the UK of course! It's worth remembering though that all giveaways an impact on public spending somewhere."

– Rob Johnson, Chief Executive, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

Commenting on specific measures he adds:

Apprenticeships - "You have to question though the rationale behind the increase in the National Minimum Wage for apprentices by 57p per hour to £3.30 per hour. The Low Pay Commission recommended a 7p increase which would seem to be more reasonable. Clearly this is good news for the individual apprentices benefiting from the rise. But it can only impact on the ability and willingness of employers to take on apprentices, a particular concern coming at a time when the number of apprentices is falling. Such a measure should have been balanced by a more positive move to encourage take-up of apprentices by businesses."

Tax returns - "It will be interesting to see how this turns out in practice. It's not clear how a move to submitting information by computer, tablet or smartphone during the year is simpler than completing an annual tax return. It does seem to be more open to confusion and error. The ability for small businesses to link with accounting software, planned by 2020, would clearly be a simplification but does have its own issues. And the Government's track record on IT systems has to be a concern!"

Fuel duty - "It's good news that the fuel duty increase scheduled for September has been cancelled as this is a key cost for many businesses and individuals, particularly in a county such as Cumbria."

Duty on spirits and beer - "Here in Cumbria we have a vibrant brewing industry - and are seeing investment too in artisan spirits. A alongside this we of course have a significant tourism and leisure economy. The cuts in beer and spirit duties is good news for businesses in these sectors."

Business taxation - "Clearly the reduction in corporation tax to 20% is good news for business."

North Sea Oil - "Support for the industry in its current troubles has to be welcome here in Cumbria where we have a number of key businesses involved in the supply chain, although the tax cut does only take us back to 2011 taxation levels."

– Rob Johnson, Chief Executive, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

Osborne: "The sun is starting to shine and we are fixing the roof!"


Budget in the Border region

George Osborne is delivering his final Budget before the General Election.

Our reporters are out around the region to gauge local reaction to the budget and what it might mean for them as it unfolds.

Matthew Taylor with a parent and toddler group in Annan Credit: ITV Border News

Election debate: are young Scottish voters more enthusiastic following the referendum?

In the latest of our series of school election debates we've been hearing the views of young people ahead of the general election. Tim Backshall has been to the Borders to look at what impact the Scottish referendum has had on teenagers and whether it will make them more or less likely to vote in May.

The group includes some young people who were old enough to vote at the referendum, but still won't be able to vote in the general election. Hear their views on that and the issues that are important to them.


Jobs could go in Borders following review

Up to 90 jobs could go in the Scottish Borders following a review, according to the union that represents staff there.

Scottish Borders Council is being asked to look at the running of its technology department. But one of the options would mean jobs going from Newtown St Boswells to Edinburgh. Jenny Longden reports

Council report will be presented in April

The Unite Union warns 80 Scottish Borders Council jobs could be transferred from Newtown St Boswells to Edinburgh.

The Council says a statement on the proposals should be given in early April:

"We have undertaken a review of our current ICT arrangements.

On 2 April, a private report will be presented to Council and we should be able to provide a statement on the proposals thereafter.

As always, staff and Unions have been briefed ahead of the report being considered by Council".

– Scottish Borders Council

Council review could see 80 jobs go from Borders

SBC is currently based at Newtown St Boswells. Credit: ITV Border

A Union official in the Borders warns that his members are ready to fight plans to switch 80 jobs to Edinburgh from Newtown St Boswells.

A review has found that a technology service at Scottish Borders Council is no longer fit for purpose, and recommends a joint arrangement with the City of Edinburgh Council.

It's understood that employees at the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) service were given the findings of a review on Tuesday.

The Union Union believe this could mean that 80 jobs in the department will relocate to Edinburgh.

Regional officer for Unite Union, Tony Trench, told ITV Border:

"Members are furious at the way they have been treated.

They don't want to go to Edinburgh City, many were born and bred in the Borders, they live here.

Where does it stop? This could be the beginning of the end of Scottish Borders Council."

– Tony Trench, Regional officer for Unite Union
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