Hartlepool folk give their reaction to the Budget

Greatham mum Alison Lee with two of her three children, Eddie, who's five, and two-year old Maisie.
Greatham mum Alison Lee with two of her three children, Eddie, who's five, and two-year old Maisie.

FAMILY

ALISON Lee, a married mum-of-three from Greatham, in Hartlepool, said overall the budget would not have a negative effect on her family but said it was a mere “drop in the ocean”.

Chris Bell and Mandy Jackson hand over the reign of The Fisherman's Arms pub to Paul and Lana Williams.

Chris Bell and Mandy Jackson hand over the reign of The Fisherman's Arms pub to Paul and Lana Williams.

Alison said: “The fact that fuel duties have been frozen will be good for us because we’re at the top of our budget for petrol.

“We rely on petrol to get my husband to work every day so we try to limit ourselves to a tank a week but it’s not always possible.

“I would have loved to have seen a bit of money coming off petrol.”

Alison was also pleased that the amount individuals can earn before paying income tax will be increased to £10,600 in April.

Colin Griffiths

Colin Griffiths

She said: “That would be good if I worked because it gives you a bit more leeway, but then again it’s not such a big difference over the course of a year is it.”

Also, National Insurance contributions for under 21s will be abolished from April, which Alison says would be handy if she were a younger working mum, or if her children were older.

“Overall, it’s all helpful and in the right direction but it’s just a drop in the ocean really.”

BEER

Eric Plews pictured in Springs.

Eric Plews pictured in Springs.

PAUL Williams, who is the landlord of the Fisherman’s Arms pub, in Southgate, on the Headland, said: “Taking a whole penny off a pint of beer is neither here nor there really.

“It’s not anything to get excited about, it’s probably just as expected really.

“It doesn’t affect us because I can’t see the brewery putting the prices down because of this.

“If the brewery did put prices down then we could pass that straight on to the customer but I can’t see it.

“There’s an election round the corner so these are probably just sweeteners for that. Doesn‘t really do much for us.”

Paul added: “The only thing the Chancellor could really do to help pubs is to make pubs VAT free the same as supermarkets, then we might stand a chance.

“We’ve lost 10,000 pubs since the turn of the century, so I say stop VAT in pubs.”

PENSIONS

OAP Eric Plews said he was glad to hear the news that those aged 55 years and over will now have the freedom to spend their defined contribution pension savings as they like.

That could mean cashing in their pension pot, or investing it elsewhere, instead of buying an annuity, or retirement income.

The 80-year-old retired mechanical engineer from the Brooke Estate, in Hartlepool, said: “I’m quite happy with my annuity rate because I took it out over 20-odd years ago.

“But more recently annuity rates have been terrible and people have the right to take the money and do with it as they please, whether they blow it, or save it it’s up to them.

“I’ve talked to a few people who have said about cashing it in but I’ve warned them to be careful about the amount of tax they may have to pay.”

He added: “It’s good for people to be able to make their own decision on what they do with it so yes it’s a good thing.”

BUSINESS

COLIN Griffiths, business consultant at the Stranton Business Centre, was pleased that the Government would be preventing larger firms avoiding paying tax, but wondered whether those who flouted the rules would be pursued as heavy as self-employed people who failed to fill in tax returns correctly.

Colin was also happy that there had been an increase in personal allowances, permitting people to earn slightly more before they have to pay tax.

But he said that was also a double-edged sword.

“It’s obviously good but then he said that they were bringing the higher rate down, so people who maybe earn more than £32,000 are paying 40 per cent, and it’s going to come down year on year as the allowance goes up.

“People just don’t realise, they take it from one end and put it on another.”

He added: “The minimum wage goes up by 20p per hour soon so what he’s giving back in one hand, he is taking away with another.”

He was angry that the Chancellor had said that zero-hours contracts were to be controlled.

Colin said: “That’s an absolute disgrace. People shouldn’t be on zero-hours contracts at all. Employers offering that are doing it for their own reasons.”