IT was his fourth budget and offered few real surprises as austerity measures continue amid the grim economic forecast.
But there are flickers of hope that George Osborne’s budget could breathe new life into the ailing housing market in the Portsmouth area and boost the construction industry.
The government will help people get on or move up the property ladder by offering ‘mortgage guarantees’ worth £130bn in total. This will mean people can afford bigger mortgages with a small deposit.
In a separate part of the initiative, the government will offer interest-free loans for five years if people want to buy new-build homes.
The loans will be worth up to 20 per cent of the value of a newly-built homes, with the buyer contributing five per cent as a deposit. roperty leaders said this was a big announcement for Portsmouth. Colin Shairp, director of the Fine and Country Southern Hampshire and Town and Country Southern estate agencies in Drayton, said: ‘Osborne’s housing aid may at last help Portsmouth.
‘It delivers a help package for the Portsmouth area housing market – or at least it will from the start of 2014.
‘In the past, measures to help people buy homes have concentrated on the new build market. In this area, where there is little land available for new build, that has been no incentive to buy.
‘But the availability of £130 billion to support low cost mortgages through a mortgage guarantee scheme, starting at the beginning of 2014 and lasting three years, will mean that the Portsmouth area property market will at last get real support from government.’
Moves to cut corporation tax and National Insurance contributions for small businesses were welcomed locally.
Ian Lockwood, commercial director at Taylor Made Computer Solutions in Fareham, said: ‘As a business we obviously welcome the cut in Corporation Tax to 20 per cent, which should make the UK an attractive place from which to operate.
‘The National Insurance will also certainly help and spur employers to take on new staff, something we’ve done a lot of in recent years and are looking to continue to do in the future.
‘The cancelling of the planned fuel duty increase will make a welcome difference to our running costs.’
LANDLORD Stuart Ainsworth welcomed the scrapping of the 3p beer duty increase and the government taking a penny off the price of beer.
But he said he, like scores of other pubs, would not be reducing the price of a pint by 1p.
Mr Ainsworth, who runs The Leopold Tavern in Albert Road, Southsea, said: ‘I won’t be taking the penny off and I think my customers will appreciate why I won’t.
‘They are not going to appreciate a penny in their pockets.
‘In real terms, you are not going to lose it off a pint in a pub. For a pint for £3.50, it’s not going to become £3.49.’
He said most pubs work in multiples of 5p anyway.
The changes will save him about 70p every time he buys a barrel of beer.
‘It will make my gross profit margin more sustainable,’ he said.
‘The main victory today was it won’t go up anymore.
‘Beer is not going up, but wines and spirits will be.’
Family man’s view
FATHER-of-seven Rob Martin said his family would still be counting every penny.
Mr Martin has recently returned to work as an engineer after taking three years off to help care for his eight-year-old daughter Maddie, who has spina bifida.
He said the government’s childcare voucher scheme did nothing to help parents who have to stay at home.
The 52-year-old, of Soberton Road, Leigh Park, said: ‘For it to work, both parents would need to be working.
‘My wife does not work and because of the circumstances of Maddie, she is not able to.
‘She would love to go out and work.’
Mr Martin said the increases in personal tax allowance – equivalent to an extra £16 in his pocket every month from April – would help.
But he added: ‘It’s very much a drop in the ocean.
‘The cost of food is going up. Every time you go the supermarket, the food is going up. Gas and electricity are going up.’
He added: ‘On paper, it looks good. I personally don’t think things are going to change.’
DRIVER Lulu Bowerman breathed a sigh of relief that the price of fuel was not going up.
George Osborne announced that petrol will be 13p a litre cheaper than if he had not frozen the duty over the last two years – the equivalent to around £7 less every time someone fills up the average Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra.
Motorist Lulu Bowerman, 54, from Emsworth, covers between 200 and 300 miles a week in her job.
The mum-of-one, who works at Chichester College and is also an event organiser, said: ‘I am delighted.
‘As a business user, you get petrol back but it’s only 45p. It doesn’t really touch the sides.
‘This has got to be a good thing.
‘Everybody is spending so much of their disposable income now just to get to work and pick the kids up from school.’
Mrs Bowerman reckoned she could spend up to £60 a week on petrol and had switched to an economical Ford Fiesta. She said: ‘If you have to go into Portsmouth, you try to make sure you can get everything done on the same day to save petrol.’