Steven Bruck, a partner at Blick Rothenberg Chartered Accountants, takes a look at the winners and losers of this year's Budget.
Osborne surprisingly had a fair amount of leeway in his Budget. But we have to set all this in the context of a very gloomy overall picture.
The UK economy has grown at the fastest rate in five years, partly because of the Olympics. But have we felt it here?
Scottish and English councils on both sides of the border are clubbing together to come up with combined strategies for things like renewable energy, transport and tourism. They'll now meet up regularly. It's an attempt to help boost their economies.
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown has invited a number of local organisations to come together and help find a way of creating more employment in the area.
Members from Dumfries and Galloway Council, the UK Government Department of Work and Pensions and Chambers of Commerce are attending a jobs summit in Dumfries after Mr Brown raised concerns over the state of the local economy.
Mr Brown said:
"Amidst all the national debate over whether the UK economy is or is not growing again, what is clear is there has been a seismic decline in the local economy over the past two years, which has seen unemployment rise above the rest of UK and average wages plummet.
"The UK Government often argues that the loss of public sector jobs isn't a problem, because up to a million private sector jobs have been created across the UK to replace them.
– Russell Brown MP, Dumfries and Galloway, Labour
"However, when you analyse those figures closely you see that in Dumfries and Galloway the number of private sector jobs is actually falling, and this is on top of the huge cuts in jobs in the public sector such as the council.
"Our region is losing well paid jobs in manufacturing on an almost weekly basis at the moment, and what jobs are being created tend to be lower paid, hence the fact that average wages are also on the decline locally."
A Dumfriesshire MP is holding a cross-party jobs summit after raising serious concerns over the state of the local economy.
Russell Brown said that south-west Scotland is heading towards becoming an "economic basket case", with falling wages and high unemployment levels.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that Dumfries and Galloway is now the lowest paid region in Scotland, with the average weekly earnings of just £400 (by workplace).
This falls short in comparison to the Scottish average of £497.60 and the UK average of £507.60.
The region has also seen a fall in earnings since 2010 at a time the Scottish and UK average earnings have increased.
- New Employment Allowance will take the first £2,000 off the employer National Insurance bill of every company in the country
- Around 450,000 small businesses - one third of all employers - will pay no employer National Insurance at all after introduction of Employment Allowance in April next year
- Small firms will be given help through Government procurement budgets, growth vouchers and controls on regulators' charges
- The Capital Gains Tax holiday will be extended
- Corporation tax to be reduced by a further 1% to 20% in April 2015
- Small company and main rates of corporation tax merged at 20p
Here are some of the measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne that could affect voters' wallets:
- Rise in personal allowance brought forward to 2014, meaning no income tax on the first £10,000 of earnings
- Tax free child care vouchers worth £1,200 per child and increased support for families with children on universal credit
- Flat rate pension worth £144 a week to be brought forward to 2016
- Fuel duty rise scrapped
- Help for Equitable Life policy holders extended to those who bought with-profits annuities before 1992, with payments of £5,000 and extra £5,000 for those on lowest incomes
- Planned 3p rise in beer duty tax scrapped and replaced by a 1p cut in duty on a pint of beer
- New Help-to-Buy scheme for those struggling to find mortgage deposits will include £3.5 billion for shared equity loans, and a Government interest-free loan worth 20% of the value of a new build house
- Cap-on social care costs to come in in 2017 and protect savings above £72,000
New figures released show that there has been an increase in the number of unemployed people in Cumbria and southern Scotland.
Over the past month the number out of work in Dumfries and Galloway went up by 188 to 3542 which is 3.9%.
In the Borders the jobless figure of 2102 is up by more than 100 and stands at 3%.
Unemployment in Cumbria has risen in the last month to 2.9%.
There are 8,982 people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance - that is almost 550 more than December.
An initiative by three Cumbrian Councils to agree to promote business and employment along the M6 corridor in the county has been praised.Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border said:
"The M6 corridor project is an excellent example of what we as MPs in Cumbria should be doing more of: working together for the greater good of our county, and putting party politics aside to highlight what we can do, in cooperation, to grow our economy, support our businesses and communities, and generate prosperity for all.
– Rory Stewart MP
"The M6 is a symbolic road, stretching right through the heart of Cumbria, and is a lifeline to our businesses and industries. We want the M6 corridor to be an example for rural Britain, showing how we can attract investment and development that will power our economy as we move out of recession. I am delighted to be a part of this exciting project.”
Three Cumbrian councils have agreed to work together to promote the economy in the county along the M6 from junctions 36 to 44.
The leaders of Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council and South Lakleand Council have each signed up to the 'M6 Corridor Initiative.'
The Initiative outlines that the councils will work collaboratively to:
- Promote economic growth along the M6 corridor in East Cumbria
- Provide employment sites within easy reach of main transport routes
- Support development wherever it is most appropriate across the area
- Improve infrastructure and communication networks along the corridor
- Make it easier for businesses to relocate in the area
- Seek to attract new and growing investment
- Market the corridor as an area open for business
- Work with partners such as the County Council and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership to facilitate growth .