Mixed views on Osbourne’s pre-budget statement

George Osbourne
George Osbourne

St John’s Hospice in Lancaster has welcomed news that the Government will refund its VAT, following an announcement by the Chancellor in this week’s Autumn Statement.

George Osbourne also revealed that inflation-linked increases in business rates would be capped at 2 per cent, amongst a whole host of other measures intended to help repair the UK’s economy.

Sue McGrath, chief executive at St John’s Hospice said that the refund would amount to around £20,000 each for the 200 hospices in the country.

She added: “Hospice care isn’t fully funded, with a third of running costs coming from the NHS, and two thirds coming from the community. It’s great news but we would ask future governments to look at how hospices are funded in general.”

Rachel Marsdin, from Lancaster chartered accountants Moore and Smalley, said that the chancellor “did not offer enough clarity” on business rates. She added: “What we did not see was any meaningful detail to back up the government’s previous hints at wider reform of the structure of business rates.

“I appreciate that the chancellor’s priority is cutting the budget deficit, which leaves little room for tax cuts in the short term.

“But reform of business rates would generate real economic growth by encouraging businesses to invest and create jobs.”

Other measures included a reform of stamp duty, a freeze on fuel duty, an increase in personal tax allowance to £10,600 from next April, and £2bn extra every year until 2020 for the NHS.

But Cat Smith, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said the statement “confirmed that David Cameron and George Osborne have now failed every test and broken every promise they made on the economy”. She added: “They promised living standards would rise, but while millionaires have got a huge tax cut working people in Lancaster and Fleetwood are £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories.”