Praise and criticism for the Budget
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%The Chancellor sparked wildly different reactions from industry and unions, drawing praise and criticism.
Business groups welcomed measures to cut energy costs and promote manufacturing, but unions attacked the "obsession" with austerity.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "This Budget reeks of the stuck-up complacency of the well-heeled elite.
"Osborne's claim that the economy will get back to pre-recession levels this year is sadly not the case.
GDP per head is still 5.7% down on 2007 and real value of average earning is also down 13.8%. There is a very long way to go to get living standards for the vast majority of workers back to pre-recession levels.
"The Budget is doing very little to get the 912,000 unemployed aged 16-24 into proper jobs. As some 246,000 have been out of work for over a year, there is a grave danger of seeing a lost generation."
Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This Government's obsession with austerity is causing misery for millions of people while the over-hyped economic recovery benefits only a wealthy few.
"Instead we need free universal childcare so parents can afford to return to work, a living wage and an end to pay cuts, and proper investment to create sustainable jobs and build the homes to tackle the scandal of our housing crisis."
Dave Prentis, leader of Unison, said: "The Chancellor has run out of time and ideas. His claims that people are feeling the benefits of his austerity agenda are wearing thin. The public are not fooled, they know that the gap between the rich and poor is dividing society.
"They know that their pay has failed to keep pace with the rising cost of everyday essentials such as food and fuel. And they know that fears over job stability are making them fearful for the future and the future of their families.
"Unison members will see through the Chancellor's Budget for what it means - at least another four years of pain for little gain."
British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth said: "Business wanted a Budget that was disciplined, focused, and geared toward the creation of wealth and jobs - and that's what the Chancellor has delivered.
"With a huge confidence gap still separating employers from young job-seekers, we are very pleased to see the Chancellor heed our call to help firms take on and train tomorrow's workforce. Overcoming that confidence gap means more investment in young people, more apprenticeships, and more jobs, which are critical with more than 900,000 16-to-24-year-olds still out of work.
"Osborne's focus on investment, exports, house-building and economic resilience passes the business test. By making a better business environment his top priority, the Chancellor has recognised that successful and confident companies are the key to transforming Britain's growing economic recovery into one that is felt in homes and on high streets."
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "The Chancellor said this would be a Budget for manufacturers and he has delivered on his word.
"The Government clearly recognises the need to make the competitiveness of the UK a priority. We argued strongly for the need to reduce the rising cost of energy faced by many companies, and he's acted on that. Taken together with measures to boost investment, exports and skills, the Chancellor deserves a pat on the back.
"We have always said that to achieve a resilient recovery, Government must back manufacturing and we've seen that from this Budget.
"We now have some of the building blocks in place which will help rebalance the economy. But, as the Chancellor suggests, there's still more work to be done.
"We now need to take steps which will lead to longer-term solutions beyond current spending and electoral cycles. This will finally give business the predictability and certainty to encourage the successive rounds of investment our economy needs."
Friends of the Earth economics campaigner David Powell said: "Despite George Osborne's pledge last month to tackle climate change, it's dirty business as usual in this year's Budget.
"Merely weeks after promising action on flooding and global warming, the best the Chancellor can manage is a U-turn on his own reckless flood defence cuts, and caving in to big business lobbying on pollution tax.
"Mr Osborne says he wants to make our economy 'resilient', but Britons face paying a hefty price for his failure to confront the reality of climate change."
Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society, said: "Raising the personal allowance and lifting three million people out of taxation may appear a positive move. For hundreds of thousands of working families that depend on housing benefit to top up their meagre earnings, this will gain them very little.
"The vast majority of this will be deducted from their benefits, giving with one hand while taking with the other."
John Allan, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "This was always going to be a 'steady-as-you-go' Budget for business, designed to get the UK's financial affairs in order.
"The Chancellor delivered a Budget to maintain positive momentum in the economy, while incorporating fiscal prudence. Today's Budget offered a clear signal for businesses to grow through the increased investment allowance, and with a focus on manufacturing.
"The £7 billion package to cut manufacturing energy bills will help create jobs and strengthen this key sector."
Local Government Association chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said: "The national housing shortage and lack of jobs for young people are two of the most pressing issues facing the country today. The Chancellor is right to address these in this year's Budget and extra support announced for home buyers and small builders, along with additional funding for apprenticeships, are positive steps.
"Much more can be done to build new homes, create jobs and stimulate the economy if local government's hands were untied by the Chancellor to drive this through at a local level.
"Bringing down spending on benefits through a welfare cap will only be truly effective when government also frees councils to build more social housing."
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: "Ordinary people will be asking themselves are they better off? The simple answer is no. This was a blue rinse budget for the stockbroker belt who will celebrate their tax reductions and help with their savings.
"But for real Britain, this is devoid of hope and genuine effort to tackle the crisis in living standards facing ordinary people.
"The £56 a year that basic rate tax payers will get through changes to tax allowances is a pittance. It will do nothing to help low paid workers in the grip of a wage siege, nor will it help the 4.6 million people whose pay is so low they don't pay tax."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This was a pre-election Budget, with its giveaways aimed at the better off rather than lifting the living standards of the many.
"It will be paid for by further years of austerity, public services brought to near collapse, public sector pay cuts and a welfare cap that bites into the safety net that any of us might need.
"There was nothing for the young who continue to face the worst job market in decades and unaffordable housing.
"Nor was there any relief for low and middle earners who, after years of falling living standards, have no spare cash to take advantage of the help for savers, and who now face year on year cuts in benefits for working families as the welfare cap bites."
Daisy Sands, head of policy at the Fawcett Society, said: "The introduction of a fixed cap to in-work welfare spending, to be set at £119 billion in 2015-16, is devastating for women, who are already bearing the brunt of cuts to benefits and tax credits.
"Some 80% of the money already slashed from the welfare bill has come from women's pockets; this new cap puts women in the firing line for years to come."
Dot Gibson, National Pensioners Convention general secretary, said: "Pensioners will be concerned that benefits such as the winter fuel allowance, cold weather payments and the Christmas bonus have all been placed into the welfare cap, which could lead to cuts in the future, at a time when fuel bills in particular are continuing to rise."
Helen Donohoe, director of public policy at Action for Children, said: "Capping welfare spending without putting in the right support to enable families to reduce their reliance on benefits will keep poorer families where they are - trapped in poverty by the rising cost of living with little chance of escape.
"The politics of the welfare debate is taking away focus from what matters most, helping vulnerable children and their families."
Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: "This is a responsible and imaginative Budget which should promote growth, exports and investment. It will be widely welcomed across the business community.
"We applaud the strengthening of the link between savers and business investment, through ISA and pension reforms. This has the potential to bring profound change, shifting our culture from debt to savings."
John Cridland, CBI director general, said: "The Budget will put wind in the sails of business investment, especially for manufacturers.
"This was a make or break Budget coming at a critical time in the recovery and the Chancellor has focussed his fire power on areas that have the potential to lock in growth."
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Praise and criticism for the Budget
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