Mixed reaction to 2012 budget

GLOBAL film success could return to Banbridge if the latest budget is anything to go by, it is hoped.

Popular television drama Game of Thrones was partially filmed near the Corbet last year and the news that there will be tax relief incentives for the television and video game industry has been welcomed.

It is a positive to be taken from a budget which is has received mixed reaction from local representatives and the town’s Chamber of Commerce President Joe Quail.

“I think the tax break for media has to be welcomed,” he said. “If there is more investment in media then hopefully Game of Thrones and other shows might return here and the local film industry will flourish.

“Aside from the kudos of having such a big name television series filmed here there are the benefits of having the cast and crew in the area visiting local businesses and so on.”

Chancellor George Osborne announced an increase in tax free personal allowances which, it is hoped, will provide slightly more disposable income for people, but many have argued the increase in fuel costs could simply counteract that.

“The increase in the tax allowance should see more money in the pockets of working families from next April,” said Mr Quail. “But disappointly the Chancellor didn’t address rising fuel costs which are a concern for everyone.

“It is going to be a cost to businesses, especially small ones. One positive point for small businesses though is a reduction in some of the red tape in tax calculation which will hopefully be of benefit.”

Upper Bann MP David Simpson, who is a Westminster spokesman on Business Innovation and Skill, said the budget had “missed too many opportunities,” although he acknowledged the limited funds available to the Government.

“On the subject of young people I think it is regrettable that the Chancellor didn’t announce any new funding for apprenticeships,” he said.

“Many members of the business community will be disappointed that there was no cut in the national insurance contributions for any business hiring someone aged 25 and under.

“Many people – especially road hauliers – and especially in Northern Ireland and other isolated or outlying areas of the UK would be bitterly disappointed at the Chancellor’s announcement regarding fuel duty. What the Chancellor gave by increasing personal allowances he took away in one fell swoop with this announcement.”

Pensioners have been hit particularly hard, with 1,681 in the Banbridge area affected by the withdrawal of age-related personal allowances.

The move will translate to a loss of £15 a week for those nearing pension age.

“It is the people coming up to pension age who might reasonably have expected to avail themselves of the higher personal allowance who are affected by this,” said Mr Gardiner.

“Many pensioners are having to live off fixed or declining incomes already and many of those who have made private provision have seen the value of their investments decline. This additional blow from the Chancellor is totally uncalled for.”