Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne has released the annual financial Budget in the UK, prompting a mixed response from the agricultural industry.
“The British Poultry Council is pleased with the recognition of the vital role that apprenticeships play in promoting growth and improving skills. As the Richard Review recommends, employers’ needs have to sit at the heart of the apprenticeship system so that young people can gain the skills they need to make a long-term contribution to the success of the poultry sector,” the British Poultry Council said in a statement.
“We are however disappointed to see that the VAT on hot foodstuffs has not been reversed. Last week we delivered a petition to the Treasury with over 50,000 signatures against the measure, which has had a major impact on sales of rotisserie chicken. This ‘hot VAT tax’ is not raising huge sums for the Treasury but is having a major impact on hard-pressed families and British producers across the country,” the BPC concluded.
Announcements in the Budget to cut national insurance bills and scrap fuel duty will go some way in helping farm businesses deal with spiralling costs, the NFU said.
NFU President Peter Kendall said: “As always, we will examine the details in the coming days to get a much clearer picture of how this budget will help farming become more profitable and productive. But some of the specific announcements today are to be welcomed.
“The cancellation of the fuel duty rise in September will help businesses across the economy, including food and farming industries that have been struggling to absorb rising fuel costs.
“However, I am disappointed to have heard so little from the Chancellor that will give our farmers and growers the confidence they need to invest in their businesses. The UK agri-food has some tremendous opportunities ahead. Globally, demand for food is growing, stimulating further potential for exports beyond the EU.
“At home, there remains an opportunity to expand our share of domestic markets as we witness unprecedented levels of awareness of food provenance and origin in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Last year’s Autumn Statement contained the welcome announcement on the Annual Investment Allowance, and this is already encouraging plant and machinery expenditure in agriculture. Today’s budget failed to deliver equivalent measures for farm buildings and infrastructure. It is capital investment which is the real trigger for meeting the long term challenge of food security.”