Chancellor’s plans are a ‘mixed bag’

Janice Auton
Janice Auton

A “MIXED bag” of a Chancellor’s statement brought an equally varied set of responses in Hartlepool.

George Osborne got a warm response from town business people after proposing a cap on increases in business rates at two per cent from April 2014.

Sarah Ainslie, secretary and vice chairwoman of the Hartlepool branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small firms and FSB members in the town were bracing themselves for an expected rise of 3.2 per cent next year. The Chancellor has, it seems, listened to the lobbying.”

The Chancellor’s plans to hand some of the income from bank fines to military charities were also praised.

David Smith, secretary of the Hartlepool-based Cleveland and Durham branch of the Oddfellows Society, which supports the ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity, said: “It’s a good bit of thinking. I have seen soldiers including, one who had both his legs and his right arm blown off, and they have overcome adversity with the help of charity.”

Retired sales manager Derek Redman, from the Fens area of town, welcomed the freeze on fuel duty. He said: “It is one of the main things that people gripe about, along with heating bills.”

But the Government’s plans to change the retirement age were not so warmly welcomed.

It will rise to 68 in the mid 2030s and 69 in the late 2040s, and brought a lukewarm response from Hartlepool mum-of-three Donna Emmerson, 32, who comes from the Bishop Cuthbert area of Hartlepool and works as a tutor.

She said: “It is everyone’s personal opinion as to when they want to retire. A lot of people, when they reach the current retirement age, are not ready to pack in.

“If I am fit and active when it comes, I might want to go on.

“But I might also want that option of taking it easy and deciding that I might fancy travelling instead.”

Janice Auton, the owner of Poppys hairdressing salon, in Victoria Road, said the statement was a “mixture of little things” that, together, could make a big difference.

She said a cap on business rates would help to protect the increased turnover that the business was starting to see.

And she added: “The freeze on fuel duty will affect our deliveries. When we order our products, it will stop the charges from increasing.”