We applaud this budget. The Chancellor has stuck to his guns and held his nerve - which is exactly what we wanted to see. Deficit reduction is not an optional policy, it is an absolute necessity, and he is right to reject the siren calls to abandon it.
Businesses will be glad that George Osborne has also continued the downward pressure on Corporation Tax. Britain must become the most competitive place to do business, and lower taxes will attract welcome investment from abroad.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said Chancellor George Osborne has "pulled out all the stops" with a "wide-ranging package" of measures to support small businesses.
National chairman of the FSB John Walker said, "The housing initiative will help reinvigorate the construction sector in which many of our members operate".
"National Insurance cut goes beyond what we were asking for and we are pleased to see the scrapping of the 3p fuel duty due in September", he added.
- 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
Steven Bruck, a partner at Blick Rothenberg Chartered Accountants, says: "Corporation Tax will come down one per cent from April 2015.
"For the first time in many years there will be a single rate of Corporation Tax at an internationally competitive rate of 20 per cent. This is very good for business and as an encouragement for inward investment in the UK."
Everything had to go, and everything has gone. But the saga of Comet's final decline is not yet at an end. What went wrong is now in the sights of senior politicians. ITV News Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg reports:
Comet owners OpCapita issued a statement on the failed retailer saying its plan to rescue the firm included measures to improve the profitability of the business.
We will of course assist fully with any inquiry and welcome the opportunity to provide BIS with factual information relating to the circumstances which led to Comet entering administration.
Deloitte published yesterday its Initial Report to Creditors of Comet Group Ltd which already includes detailed information and commentary on the events leading up to the appointment of administrators.
In addition the report sets out the detail of the turnaround plan for Comet which included a series of measures designed to improve the profitability of the business.
The statement added that once administration is completed, Deloitte will issue a full public report to creditors.
Failed high street retailer Comet has set up a website for former Comet employees as well as those finishing work today.
The site, cometjobs.co.uk, offers a 'The Daily Jobs' email circular of vacancies, an employee help line, fact sheet and postings on the latest jobs with other retailers.
One in 10 shops in UK high streets and shopping centres were empty in October as retailers battle against stagnating sales and rising costs, a survey has found.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the town centre vacancy rate of 11.3% was the worst figure since its nationwide survey began in July 2011.
A fifth of store units are currently empty in Northern Ireland, while the rate for Wales is 15.1% and for the North & Yorkshire region the rate is 14.6%. Greater London had 7.6% of its units lying empty.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said the new figures would set "alarm bells ringing" as it confirmed the financial challenges for both customers and retailers were far from over.
Big brands including JJB Sports, Clinton Cards, Blacks Leisure, Game and Peacocks have either disappeared or scaled back their presence in town centres after going into administration.
- Under the proposals if the worker accepts the deal it will become legally protected so it cannot be used later as evidence in any court case or tribunal.
- Officials insist the move is fair to employees as they are not obliged to take the package and also incentivises bosses to offer a good package, which can include a binding promise of a favourable reference.
- Mr Cable will also consult on plans to change the limit on unfair dismissal payouts to a maximum of 12 months' salary or set it at an even lower figure.
- He wants to reduce the current £72,300 cap significantly in the hope of encouraging small businesses to start hiring more staff.
Business Secretary Vince Cable will announce that "no-fault dismissal" proposals are being dropped after a lack of support for the idea among the business community.
Mr Cable has made no secret of his opposition to the recommendation, which many Tories backed, but aides were keen to stress the proposal was being ditched because there was "no significant evidence" that it would help employers.
The Business Secretary wants to bolster settlement agreements - where employers can offer under-performing employees a pay off - so they become more widely used to resolve disputes.